Opendoorz Director, Sonia Kearns, explores the ‘buzz’ she gets when Opendoorz members form long-lasting, fruitful collaborations!
In a former life, Cathy Dunbabin and myself would definitely have been the village Matchmakers. Obviously, this would have involved copious amounts of hat buying and fizz consumption, at which we are both highly skilled! However, we also have quite a knack for connecting and introducing people who we know will hit it off.
Clearly, professional matchmakers aren’t much called for these days (although that doesn’t stop us trying!), however, in business the idea of bringing talented, professionals together to form prosperous collaborations and supportive communities is incredibly valuable (and luckily for us also includes fizz drinking!).
When we set up Opendoorz as a professional membership network, we based the model on the foundations of “Relationship, Opportunity and Success”. The principle of collaboration is the unifying link between those foundations. It’s what makes Opendoorz tick, it’s at the heart of our ethos and is one of the clearest markers of success we have.
Over the last dozen years of successful professional networking, we’ve seen first-hand what a powerful business tool collaboration is through our members time and time again. The reason collaboration works so well within Opendoorz is down to the emphasis we put on our members really getting to know, like and trust each other. Our members can confidently collaborate with and recommend each other because they understand each other’s business offering inside out, trust that person to deliver and believe in the value their service adds.
Collaboration in action
I’ve been chatting to two Opendoorz members about what collaboration means to them and how collaborating is helping them build and grow their businesses.
Liz Sparrow, Partner Architect at Ridge & Partners LLP, has found the local connections she’s made through Opendoorz really powerful.
“There’s lots of crossovers and complementary property skills and services within Opendoorz. We’re working in partnership with several different Opendoorz members, from builders to lighting designers and interior designers. It’s also opened up new avenues in types of work that we’ve not traditionally worked in.” Liz says.
“In fact, when Ridge were tendering for a particularly big local project, we knew three Opendoorz members who all had strong connections to the project and their validation of our work and services definitely helped play a major role in securing the win.”
Over the last 12 months, we’ve introduced sector specific ‘huddles’ within Opendoorz also. Members from across the 8 groups meet together to identify opportunities for collaboration and partnership. Through the property huddle, Liz has also started collaborating with members outside of her Oxford group.
In fact, she’s working on a virtual project with Annie Haimes Interior Designs, who is a member of our Henley group.
“The huddles have been great for getting to know the wider Opendoorz members and develop a much deeper understanding of what they do. This has helped us identify more innovative ways to collaborate.”
Away from property specific collaborations, Liz and the team at Ridge are also benefitting from the skill-base within Opendoorz to help support their business. They are currently working with Energy PR, Action Coach David Haimes, and Urban Element .
“There’s such a wealth of intelligence and skills that we’re able to use to help support our business. From marketing to professional development we are collaborating with a wealth of expertise.”
For Louise Findlay-Wilson, Owner of Energy PR, Opendoorz has been a really positive experience of collaboration.
“There’s a natural fit between Energy PR and Urban Element, a digital marketing agency. We can recommend our clients to them with absolute confidence that a great job will be done. We have also been able to support them adding value to their clients. In fact, we’re talking about an even closer collaboration where we share each other’s social channels, write guest blogs for each other and host a joint event.”
Louise also uses the services of other Opendoorz members to add value to her clients. A good example of this is Emma Roebuck from Ox Designers who works with several of Energy PR’s customers as well as designing some of their pitches and marketing collateral too.
“The diverse range of sectors that are represented with Opendoorz is brilliant for us as a PR Agency because we can tap into the expertise when we are looking for expert content. Recently, we worked with Matt Richardson an Architect with Ridge & Partners who was able to write an expert article for one of our clients on future property. It gave our client the independent expert voice they needed and was good exposure for Matt and Ridge.”
Energy PR also uses a range of other Opendoorz members to help support the business too. For example, Nell Kirkum from Your Pink Giraffe manages all of their recruitment and Ali Wiltshire from Fiscal Business Services Ltd provides bookkeeping.
“Opendoorz is so much more than a networking/referral group. You go into it thinking that’s what it’s for but at every level there’s a useful connection you can make. I use an Opendoorz member, Mark Barclay Wealth Management, to manage my personal finance and investments and my son even got a job through an introduction Simon Flint from Flint Property Construction made for him.”
Whilst Cathy and I might not be buying too many hats in our role as Directors of the Opendoorz, we are privileged to see our members’ businesses grow and flourish through the successful collaborations they create. We also do get the opportunity to celebrate and drink plenty of fizz, as one of the key features of Opendoorz is having fun and a good laugh over a drink at the bar after the meeting.
If you’d like to experience the Opendoorz difference for yourself, why not join us at a guest meeting? Get in touch to find out more.
And if you’re looking for love, get in touch too – we’re still happy to play matchmakers on the side!