Laura Petrella, the CEO of the Cuyahoga Falls Ohio Chamber of Commerce for the past 21 years, has created her own Gold Rush in Akron’s largest suburb and the surrounding Northeast Ohio area.
The creation of weekly networking/referral meetings without all the rules and requirements of the national networking groups seemed a bit daunting, but not to a forward thinking Chamber executive like Laura Petrella.
The initial concept quickly grew from the trial group to running four networking groups with 25 business owners in each group.
The success of these Goldmine Groups (the official name of the Chamber program) is noted by the fact that Laura has approximately 10 business owners on a waiting list to join a Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce Goldmine group.
These Goldmine referral groups is her signature program that draws business owners from the surrounding towns and communities.
The Goldmine referral groups are a weekly round table of business leaders that come together to socialize with an opportunity for members to talk about their small business every week, gaining exposure and developing relationships with the business leaders at that table.
What makes it unique is that each Goldmine group has approximately 25 business leaders that are committed to the weekly meetings. In fact, weekly participation averages above 90% weekly.
The commitment of group members to attend every week is astounding.
Similar to other national paid networking groups, only one group member per industry type is allowed and every week you have 30 to 60 seconds to talk about your business at the round table and then one person signs up every week to be the presenter.
That is where the similarities end.
There are a couple of reasons why the Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce Goldmine referral groups work so well:
- You are not required to pass a referral every week. It was discovered that 5-8 good, solid and pre-qualified leads/referrals per year was better appreciated than the low quality leads passed when it is a weekly requirement.
- Every quarter, a different business leader can step up and become the group facilitator. This gives small business owners a little bit of ownership, a vested interest in the group and it’s a great opportunity for that small business person who has never led a group, or led a committee to stand up and say, “I’d like to be facilitator next quarter.” It gives them that opportunity and that experience.
- Members listen as two business owners each give a 20 minute presentation to the group during each meeting. They are encouraged to speak about business trends, things that are happening in their industry and to share more intimate details to help everyone understand their business and to help them make better referrals to their business.
- It also serves as a mastermind group as owners can and do ask for help within the group. If they need help in their own business or a business situation they are trying to solve or handle, they can run that by the group leader or the group itself and get some feedback directly from fellow business owners.
The biggest trend the Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce has experienced is they are seeing more and more business leaders having the willingness to help other business owners within the Goldmine groups find solutions and solve common problems.
The Cuyahoga Falls Chamber has a major fundraiser called “Night at the Races” coming up on February 27, 2015 and all profits they raise go directly into their scholarship foundation.
To learn more about these Goldmine referral groups call Laura Petrella at (330) 929-6756 or visit: http://cfchamber.com.