Latest News

If you’re not mixing business and pleasure – why the hell not?!

The Opendoorz ultimate guide to building great networking relationships.

Opendoorz Directors, Cathy Dunbabin and Sonia Kearns, share the big lessons they’ve learned about how to build long-lasting, effective professional relationships.

Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that networking is all about relationships. But relationships are complex things and getting them right can be tricky. Over the course of our careers, we’ve seen the huge benefits that having a strong professional network can bring (we’ve also seen some spectacular fails, but we’ll save those stories for the bar!)

We’ve honed these experiences to help us create the optimum professional networking model in Opendoorz. At its core, Opendoorz is a platform for facilitating members to develop their professional relationships and really get to know each other. One on one insight meetings, showcases, continuous professional development sessions and creating a trusted space for open and honest discussion are all part of the regular structure and is one of the reasons are members stay with us for such a long time.

With twelve groups across Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, and Berkshire and more than 150 business owner or director-level members, we can confidently say we know a thing or two about how to develop great professional relationships! We’ve put together the Opendoorz ultimate guide to developing great networking relationships.

A systematic approach works best

Take it from us there is no way you can maintain long-term, close professional relationships with everyone you meet. Although it might sound a bit harsh, you need a systematic approach that helps you assess the potential of a professional relationship, enabling you to focus on the ones that have the potential to help you grow and achieve your goals and let those that don’t fit the bill gently drift by the wayside.

You will come across connections that for one reason or another are not great for you. For your own sake, you have to prioritise and you have to build the relationships with people where there is a mutual benefit. It can’t all be a one-way street in their favour.

What are the key qualities to look for in your professional relationships?

There are lots of great qualities that help make for a great professional relationship. We’ve listed our top ones.

New business introducer

After all, we’re all here to do business.

Trusted supplier

Networking is more than just sales. Sometimes, it can be just as important to build relationships with those who can help you deliver what your customers want.


Finding that person who you can work with to deliver a unique offering to a shared customer base.

Repeat introducer

Those who act almost as an extension to your service offering or you to theirs. You are their ‘go-to’ person for your area of expertise.


We all need people who inspire us and help us become a better business person. These are the people who will give you opportunities to grow and develop your skills, such as speaking at events or conferences.

Key person of influence

A ‘go-to’ expert who can provide you with a trusted source of good advice.

Fun and friendship

If you’re not mixing business and pleasure – why the hell not?! Your network absolutely should be a source of fun and friendship, not least because without those it’s impossible to have a genuine relationship with someone.

Sounding board

You might not always want to hear what they’ve got to say but you know you’ll always get honest advice from this person without judgement.

Accountability and challenge

Sometimes we all need a bit of a ‘kick up the bum’ to keep us motivated, focused and on track. Having someone who keeps you accountable is hugely important.

Filter out what’s important to you

Now, obviously you are not going to find all those qualities wrapped up in one person (if you do, cling onto them!). And, in fact, it’s likely that some of those qualities are more important to you than others. When you are intentional about your professional relationships you begin to understand what qualities are most important to helping you achieve your goals and what you bring to the relationship too.

Take some time to review those qualities and rank them in order of importance to you, your professional development and your aims and objectives.

A good exercise to undertake, is to take the top three qualities that you’re looking for and create a Venn diagram. Then look at your connections and place them in that diagram. If they give you one of those three things, put them in the appropriate circle, if they bring two of those qualities to the party put them in the area where the two overlap. If they bring all three, they are an absolute keeper and pop them in the middle!

Get dating… ok, not really but there is a parallel

When you’re looking for people to form special professional relationships with, it’s important to be specific about what you’re looking for. If you’ve ever been through a dating agency, then you’ll know how extensive the questionnaire is about what you’re looking for in a potential partner. You need to be as picky and as specific about your professional connections. Trust us, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of time and energy, not to mention avoid kissing a few frogs before you find a network of amazing professionals who together will help you achieve your dreams and you theirs!

If you’d like to experience the Opendoorz difference for yourself, why not join us for a guest meeting?


Our Testimonials

No matter how good we think we are it’s what our members and guests say that matters most…