If you’re a small business owner and networking is not a key part of your marketing strategy you could be missing out on a powerful tool that will not only help grow your business but help grow your skills as a business leader. Read one MD’s experience of networking
As MD of Digital Gearbox, Becky Hopkin, is used to managing a business that deals with national and international clients who are looking to increase their profile online and drive sales and leads via Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.
The rise (and rise) of online shopping has been a key driver in their business expansion over the last few years. Add into the mix an increasing number of businesses who don’t sell online but also recognise the power of online lead generation and you can see why Becky has her hands full growing the team and offices.
Becky joined Opendoorz in March 2021 and we asked her to tell us more about how networking has helped her grow her business and develop professionally.
What were your first impressions of Opendoorz?
“I first went along to an Opendoorz guest event just after COVID restrictions had lifted enough to allow face to face networking. Although I’d done a lot of networking prior to lockdown, I couldn’t believe how different Opendooz was to everything else I’d ever been to.
The first thing that struck me was how relaxed and professional it was at the same time! It sounds like a bit of a contradiction but there is a tone to Opendoorz meetings that is unlike other networking groups. I can only describe it as a sort of ‘grown up’ networking. The people there are very serious about what they do but don’t see that as any reason why it shouldn’t be fun or enjoyable at the same time!”
Tell us what you like about the twice monthly meetings?
“I enjoy how the meetings are structured. At every meeting two of the members will deliver a showcase (a 10-minute presentation about an area of their business), over time you get to see members present multiple times and that really helps develop an in-depth understanding of what they do, who their clients are and how they make a difference to them.
One of the biggest benefits of the meetings for me personally is the Continuous Professional Development sessions we have in every single meeting. I’ve experienced elements of it at other networking groups but never in such a regular, structured format that’s so focused on improving your business skills. The CPD sessions can be on anything – from pricing and finance to communications or goal setting so you get a well-rounded development aspect.
I also really enjoy the fact that we have one closed meeting a month, just for members, and a second guest meeting. With the member’s only meeting we develop a strong bond amongst the group where we really get to know each other. Then once a month we throw open the doors and welcome guests in. The guest events are fun with a great buzz. The guests always bring something new to the table. So you get the best of both worlds.
The timings of the meetings work really well too. Being at the end of the working day means it doesn’t impact too much and you finish the day on a positive – a great meeting followed by a drink in the bar, perfect!”
What’s the atmosphere in the meetings like?
“Opendoorz has a very personable and intimate atmosphere. The conversations we have are wide-ranging and often quite profound. We cover a huge range of business topics but in a very organic way. Our conversations are real – we discuss the real challenges we’re facing; the things we’ve learned through experience and the ideas we want to try.
I subscribe to so many different business forums where I can read about different topics but I struggle to find time to read them. In the Opendoorz meetings, the topics come out naturally as we chat – my knowledge grows organically.
Plus, Opendoorz is fun! That’s one of the key standouts for me. I look forward to going to the meetings and seeing my fellow members who I count as friends.”
Do you maintain the connection with your fellow members outside of meetings?
“Yes! I have regular insight meetings or 1 to 1’s with other members both within my group and with members of the other Opendoorz groups. These meetings are a key way to deepen the understanding of each other’s businesses and how we can help each other.
Because you’re part of the wider Opendoorz network too I can benefit from having insights with other members and attending the guest events of other groups too. There’s around about 100 Opendoorz members so it’s a powerful network.”
What are the business benefits you’ve experienced from Opendoorz networking?
Digital Gearbox has really benefitted from being part of Opendoorz. We’ve been able to bring in some great resources to the business, such as Helen Joy from People Spark, who is helping with our team training.
We’ve also strengthened our brand by being able to make quality recommendations and referrals to our clients. Knowing that we have a trusted network we feel confident referring to is hugely important.”
If you’d like to experience the Opendoorz difference for yourself, why not join us for a guest meeting? https://opendoorz.biz/networking-events-oxfordshire/