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How do my sensitive nipples, a beer-drinking Shetland pony, and Opendoorz’s strategy go hand in hand?

Our Associate Director Jon Ellard gives a brief glimpse of how his brain works…

I joined Opendoorz in 2015, when it was just 3 groups and 45 members. Since then, the number of groups and members has grown significantly, now boasting 11 groups and over 150 members. Despite this growth, the strategy and values that first attracted me to Opendoorz have remained consistent.

Opendoorz believes emphatically that a powerful professional network is integral to  business growth and development. Here’s a brief overview of the core components, with full details at the end of this post:

Their Strategy

  • Building strong and meaningful relationships with quality businesses to foster business growth and development.

Their Vision

  • To be the business networking group of choice for inspirational business owners, partners, and directors. So members will be in the right room, making the right contacts and connections to support and grow their business.

Their Mission

  • Each Opendoorz group provides a unique, vibrant, educational, and fun environment where long-term, trusted relationships are forged, developed, and thrive. Members are surrounded by aspirational, motivated people who are willing and able to share their expertise and experience.

Core Values

  1. Never Compromise
  2. Bringing out the Best in Everyone
  3. Having a ‘Grown Up’ Approach
  4. Energise and Motivate
  5. Generosity of Spirit
  6. Fun

For a detailed explanation of each value, please see the end of this post.

Now, back to me and Opendoorz.

I have always taken networking seriously, and for me, there has to be a strong ROI. My best year to date was £160,000 in business received for a £3000 membership investment. Nine years ago, I stopped all regular networking to focus on Opendoorz, and in that time, I have moved from being a member to being an Associate Director.

When I joined, I was drawn to the informal structure of the meetings and the 6th core value: ‘Fun’. Life is too short not to have fun, especially when we spend so much of our lives working—in my case, prospecting and sales should also be enjoyable.

So, I took great delight in taking my turn as an Ambassador and later on as Chief Entertainments Officer. Over the past 9 years, I have organised and taken part in various activities:

  1. Punting
  2. Wine Tasting
  3. Cheltenham Races
  4. Secret Cinema (Casino Royale)
  5. Oxford Rugby
  6. Numerous lunches and dinners And the list goes on….

But why is this important to business, networking, and our bottom lines? Membership doesn’t guarantee business. We don’t just pass out referrals because someone has paid their dues. We take our time to get to know each other, listen to each other’s showcases, help with elevator pitches, and support each other in pricing, packaging, and promoting our products and services. We draw out each other’s real USPs and benefits over features.

In other words, we get to know, trust, and like each other. Remember that old saying: people do business with people they like. How do we fast-track this process, which can take six months? We have fun together at social events, laugh, listen, and maybe have a drink or two. The Opendoorz strategy and process support this approach.

Oh, the sensitive nipples and Shetland pony part of the story, you ask? Well, I wouldn’t share that information in a formal networking meeting. But over dinner, my group learned that my first client was a beer-drinking Shetland pony named Sparky. And while empathising with a fellow member who had sore feet from walking the southern coastline, I confided that my nipples are quite sensitive and bleed after long runs 😉.

So, to my fellow Opendoorz members, all I can say is get out there to the socials and events. Have some bloody fun!

Opendoorz Core Values

  1. Never Compromise…
    Success comes from the quality of our members, their connections, the relationships they develop, and the opportunities they create. Each new member is chosen because of the value and skill set they add. Your fellow members will be experts in their field.
  2. Bringing out the Best in Everyone…
    By providing a supportive yet challenging environment, we actively encourage personal and professional development through education, sharing ideas, constructive feedback, and involvement in the group’s growth.
  3. Having a ‘Grown Up’ Approach
    We believe that treating others with respect and courtesy allows relationships to flourish without the need for excessive rules and regulations. You are a business owner, after all.
  4. Energise and Motivate
    We strive to motivate others positively and productively. By staying passionate, energetic, fresh-thinking, and open to new ideas, you will always leave the room with a spring in your step and something new to learn.
  5. Generosity of Spirit…
    Being mindful, making time, and proactively supporting others through connections, introductions, and collaborations will grow your little black book of valued contacts.
  6. Fun
    Although serious about business, we always remember to have a little bit of fun along the way!

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