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Saturday, Mar 2, 2024

Calabasas Networking Group Debuts

On a Thursday night several weeks ago, more than 100 people turned out for a mixer at the Luxe Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Brentwood. The occasion was the launch of Echelon Business Development Network, a Calabasas-based networking group founded in 2019 by a collection of marketing professionals. The pandemic delayed the group’s official launch.

There are, of course, other networking groups in the greater Valley region, including ProVisors in Sherman Oaks, the San Fernando Valley chapter of Business Network International, and ACG 101 Corridor, the Calabasas-based chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth. 

Echelon is a newcomer to field, and its founders claim it sets itself apart from the crowd through the extensive marketing it conducts on behalf of its members.  

The primary goals of Echelon are to significantly increase business development, search engine optimization and personal and professional growth for its members, who come from a diverse set of industries and sectors and are comprised of attorneys, accountants, wealth managers, business and financial consultants, insurance agents, marketing and public relations professionals, and bankers. 

Jerri Hemsworth, who co-founded the group along with her husband, Brian, and who serves as chairman, said she and the other founders all came out of another networking organization. It was clear, Hemsworth said, that Echelon would need to provide better benefits to its members, because they all shared they opinion that their former group was not offering much for their membership fees.  

The Hemsworths own and operate Newman Grace Inc., a Woodland Hills-based marketing and branding firm, and their professional experience convinced them that they had to do more to market the group’s members. 

“So we have the magazine (Echelon Professional), written by and about our members, we have the podcast where members interview other members,” Jerri Hemsworth said. 

Echelon also hosts blogs on its website and maintains a YouTube channel featuring introductory videos of some of the members, she added.  

“The cool thing about the intro videos, as soon as we post them they are on Google’s first page within 24 hours,” Jerri Hemsworth said. “We build our members’ SEO while they sleep as part of being a member of Echelon.” 

The group also maintains the site toptrustedadvisors.com, which is a directory of professionals in the areas of law, accounting, finance, marketing and general business practices.  

Bob Sniderman, president of HRFocus USA, a Valley Village-based human resources and business consulting company, is a member of Echelon.  

He said that the group helps him develop skills in business development, social media and digital marketing. 

“I don’t know anything about that because I am kind of technology challenged,” Sniderman said. “So those kinds of resources are available to me.”
Brian Rabinovitz, director of business development/West Coast at Citrin Cooperman, is also a member of Echelon, and said he joined the group because of how it differentiates itself from other networking organizations.  

The greatest part is being able to work as a team with other members, he added.  

“You have a smaller subgroup, 15 people or so, and you learn all about them,” he added “You can bring in any problems you are having and you can ask them about certain situations where they have had experience to help each other,” Rabinovitz said.  

The group has two tiers of membership. 

Echelon One is for seasoned professionals, while Echelon Two is for young associate-level professionals. 

The cost for Echelon One is $1,200 for the first year, billed quarterly, and $1,500 per year therafter. The annual cost for Echelon Two is $1,200, or $900 if there is an Echelon One member from the same company. 

“We currently have 100 members,” Jerri Hemsworth said. “We are small, and new members are applying every day. All members must be approved by an anonymous five-person membership committee. Not everyone gets in.” 

Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk is Interim Editor at the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Inside The Valley. She previously covered real estate for the Los Angeles Business Journal. She has done work with publications including The Orange County Register, The Real Deal and doityourself.com.

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