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Old birds, new tricks and a bucketful of expertise…

Or how the Opendoorz professional business network is growing from strength to strength with some very special new Associate Directors.

If you’re looking to up your game when it comes to building a trusted network of business connections, it’s a good idea to get the insight of someone who’s a dab hand at it. Sam Farmer is just that.

Although not quite old enough to be either Cathy or Sonia’s toy boy, he’s definitely wise to the benefits of being part of a trusted professional business network such as Opendoorz. Sam joined Opendoorz 11 years ago with his business Nightingales Wealth Management and is still so convinced of the business and personal development benefits that he’s about to take it to another level and become an Opendoorz Associate Director.

Later this year, Sam will launch a new Opendoorz group in Marlow. With the experienced (*not old) hands of Opendoorz founders, Cathy Dunbabin and Sonia Kearns, behind him and the support of over 100 existing members across 8 groups, Sam is excited to bring the Opendoorz experience (including the obligatory fizz!) to the Marlow and Beaconsfield business community.

We asked Sam to tell us a bit more about why he loves business networking with Opendoorz, the impact it’s had on his business and what he hopes the new challenge of Associate Director will bring.

Hey Sam, 11 years is longer than some marriages, tell us why you’ve stuck with Opendoorz for so long?

There are 3 ways in which I can quantify the Opendoorz networking benefits. Firstly, it’s the significant amount of business I receive. I’ve built great relationships with other members that are based on trust and friendship. That makes for good working relationships.

Secondly, it’s the personal development I get. The way the meetings are structured means you get lots of opportunity to grow as a person and a business leader. There’s no hiding in Opendoorz, in a good way! You are challenged to present, to speak, to lead meetings and share your expertise. But it’s also a safe space. You’re in a room with peers and mentors who share those experiences with you and support you to grow.

Finally, it’s the connections I make who can support and add value to my own business. Over the years, I’ve worked with lots of Opendoorz members, their connections and guests who have become suppliers and contacts for my business. It means I can run my business confidently and I have a trusted network I can refer my clients to.

There’s loads of networking groups out there, what makes Opendoorz stand out for you? (And you’re not allowed to just say the drink at the bar afterwards!)

Opendoorz is not like other networking groups. In fact, I’d even say it’s not really a ‘networking’ group in the sense that most people understand them. It’s more a professional business community, where you share ideas, support and expertise. When all that is happening and the relationships are developing, the business happens naturally.

The other factor for me is that the quality of members is outstanding. You are in a community with Owners, Partners, and Directors of some of the biggest and most well-established businesses in Oxfordshire. That’s a phenomenal network to be part of and without Opendoorz I would not have the presence I do in Oxford. It also has the effect of qualifying my business with others. Being an Opendoorz member is a bit like having a quality mark for trustworthiness and quality. That’s something you don’t get with other networking groups. In fact, I think they can have the opposite effect!

How did we coerce you…sorry, I’ll rephrase that… What prompted you to take on the role of Associate Director and launch a new group in Marlow?

Last year, after 10 years in Opendoorz, I took on the role of Ambassador. That means you help push the group on to achieve their KPIs and get valuable guests in the room, you also chair the meetings. I honestly had so much fun and got so much out of it in terms of personal development and business that I wanted more!

I knew Cathy and Sonia were bringing in more Associate Directors to run various groups. The ADs launch, grow and maintain new groups implementing the Opendoorz strategy and

supporting the personal and business growth of its members. So, I spoke to Cathy about whether I could get involved at that level.

I’ve got a good business presence in Marlow and Beaconsfield already and approached a handful of local businesses I knew and started putting the idea out there. I told them about the success I’ve seen created in Oxford and that this is the next step in my journey. It went down well as we’ll launch after the summer with 8 founder members and will aim to hit a full membership of 20 by Christmas!

Obviously, our brief for an AD is dashing, charming and brilliantly clever, but what other qualities will you bring to the AD role?

I am a natural networker. It’s what I do within my business. Plus, I know Opendoorz inside out. I understand their values and their purpose. So, it all comes together really nicely – I know the area and the businesses, I have the networking ability and I’ve got the Opendoorz experience.

So, you’ll be a member of the Oxford group and AD of the Marlow group – a double whammy of Sam Farmer for us! How do you expect to manage these two roles?

Ultimately, I will just be myself as always! My values, which align with Opendoorz, are all around helping people and whether I’m a member of the Oxford group or AD of the Marlow group that’s what I’ll try to do. I think it will be great for me and my business as well as growing my role within the business community I love.

As you know we’re on the lookout for more victims, sorry- candidates to take on AD roles within Opendoorz. What would you say to someone who’s thinking about it?

I think it’s about timing. The right factors were all in place for me to step up to an AD role in terms of location, my role within my own business and my personal development.

Opendoorz has been successful for me and my business, this is a new avenue to continue that successful relationship. When I look back at my stats:- the introducers, the relationships with clients and suppliers – so much of it has come from Opendoorz. If something works, surely you should do more of it?

I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my Opendoorz journey.

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


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