If you find networking as awkward as going on a first date, then check out our top tips for making a lasting impression.
February is the month of love and romance (or at least that’s what the card and flower companies tell us!). Never ones to shy away from a band wagon or a trending topic, we thought we’d jump right on and talk about the other great relationship you should be giving your time, attention and devotion to this month – the one with your professional network of course!
So, here’s a quote we hear quite a lot…
“I know that networking is a good thing for my business/career, but it’s more painful than dating and it makes me cringe! How do I connect with people without making them think I’m a total idiot?!”
We know how you feel! We’ve been there, seen it and got the T-shirt, but believe us when we say that it doesn’t have to be that way. Managing an effective networking community is a bit like being a matchmaker. You need carefully orchestrated, structured meetings that allow people to engage and interact without the awkward small talk and cliquey groups. You need a host that works hard to identify synergies and connect people with thoughtful introductions and you need opportunities to develop those relationships outside of the structured environment. We put all of that experience and expertise into Opendoorz, and the results speak for themselves – 12 groups, over 140 members and £2.5 million worth of business passed in 2022. This Valentine’s we’ve put together our top tips for falling and staying in love with networking this Valentine’s.
As with any relationship, you get out what you put in.
At Opendoorz, our members sign up to a number of commitments, a level of engagement, when they join. These are not ‘do or die’ rules and there’s definitely no traffic light type system! What they do is help keep us focused and committed on the activities we know reap the most benefits for individuals and for the groups as a whole. That’s having regular Insights, or 1-to-1, meetings, inviting relevant guests and passing opportunities.
Strong relationships are built on shared values and at Opendoorz we have a set of values that help bond members together. These values are all about supporting, encouraging and sharing with each other in a spirit of open honesty and, most importantly, fun. By focusing on creating great connections based on a common set of values the sparks begin to fly and then the business comes naturally.
See other people…
Ok, maybe not sound relationship advice but in a networking context it’s good to bring others into the mix too!
Our monthly guest events offer the opportunity to meet new, like-minded, high calibre professionals and expand our business connections and network. In many cases, our guests have gone on to give substantial pieces of business, made quality introductions to our members and have become strategic partners, valued suppliers and new members. But most importantly our guests always say they learn something new and have a great experience. Maintain that open relationship!
Spend quality time
When you spend time with someone else on a 1:1 basis you are able to really get to know them and their business well. In our experience, those Opendoorz members who have regular Insight meetings experience a higher level of business referral. Having these meetings are where our members build strong, long-term relationships where they really get to know each other, delve deep into all aspects of each other’s businesses, explore ways to collaborate and hatch plans to create strong working relationships.
Take it slow
The hard sell approach is never an attractive one and in a networking environment will not produce valuable results or endear you to others. In fact, it will be frowned upon – particularly within Opendoorz!
We advise our new members to spend the first six months taking time to educate fellow members (and you them) about how you can actively help and support each other. Once you have a good understanding of each other’s businesses, an ideal client and who your valuable introducers are, the opportunities will flow.
Be a good listener
At each Opendoorz meeting we have a structured format that includes showcases, specific requests, professional development and an open forum enabling that education, but we also allow time for discussion and debate. The structure allows us to benefit from each other’s expertise and wisdom as well as sharing ideas and inspiration.
Show you care
In Opendoorz, one of core values is ‘generosity of spirit’. Being open and sharing your knowledge, time and expertise willingly is a great way to win the trust of others. Bringing energy, positivity and valued contribution to the meetings will help develop relationships quickly; building confidence and respect that will lead to opportunities and success. Or you could just buy flowers!!
Just as with our personal relationships, networking takes time, energy and commitment but if you find the group that works for you it never feels like a chore and you’ll get back a whole load of love 😉
If you’d like to try a bit of networking love the Opendoorz way, drop us a line and join us at a guest event. https://www.opendoorz.biz/contact