Networking experts, Cathy & Sonia, share the secrets to building a successful professional business networking group.
In the last month Opendoorz members have generated over £500,000 in new business between themselves. That’s pretty impressive for 7 groups with an average of 12 members in each whilst in the midst of a global pandemic.
So, what’s the secret? How does Opendoorz regularly and consistently generate such high levels of business shared amongst members? Well, it’s all to do with how focused we are on synergy and relationships. Read on to find out more.
In generations gone by Opendoorz Directors, Cathy Dunbabin and Sonia Kearns, would probably have been the village matchmakers. Identifying good matches for families based on social standing, characteristics, alliances and, because at the heart of it they’re a pair of old romantics, the likelihood of love blossoming.
Fast forward to the 21st century and Cathy and Sonia have used their natural talent for bringing people together and spotting good synergies to build the increasingly successful Opendoorz business model and playing matchmaker in the business arena. Cathy explains;
“We set up Opendoorz because we felt strongly that there was a real gap in the professional business networking arena for a membership group that focused not on the number of referrals being made but the quality of the relationships being built. We knew if we could nail that the business referrals would come. And they did!”
The format of Opendoorz meetings focus on developing strong relationships, not selling. This stems directly from the belief that the right to be referred to must be earned and that only comes from strong trusted relationships peppered with credibility and friendship.
So, how do you get those strong relationships that are the key to great referrals and high levels of business being done? Sonia explains:
“When it comes to getting the right calibre of people in the room, we have two key criteria. The first is ‘desirability’ which is all about what they can bring to the group and what the group has to offer them. The second is ‘eligibility’ – do they have knowledge, experience and wisdom that will add value to our conversations? And do they have the right calibre of connections that will bring value to the group?”
Opendoorz guest events happen every third week of the month. Guests are invited to join the event by either members or the Opendoorz Directors and Associate Directors. These events are lively affairs with a real focus on creating opportunities for meaningful conversations with like-minded, high calibre professionals and are a great opportunity to expand your business network. As Cathy explains:
“We put a lot of effort into educating our members about who makes a great Opendoorz guest. It’s imperative that we ensure our guests represent real and genuine connections for our members, that’s where the added value lies in Opendoorz membership.”
What makes a ‘desirable’ guest?
- An individual identified by members as a good contact, or a representative from a specific profession that members have requested meet.
- A high calibre professional who fellow members would benefit from meeting. If, as a member, you like them and would work with them, bring them along!
- A potential or former client you would like to stay in touch with or rekindle a relationship with.
- Guests with similar professions to members as they can represent a great opportunity for collaboration.
In many cases, guests to our events have gone on to give and receive substantial pieces of business, make quality introductions and have become strategic partners, valued suppliers and new members.
What makes an ‘eligible’ member?
“One of the biggest success factors for Opendoorz is that we are a bit, well, ‘picky’ about membership.”Says Sonia. “That’s because we have to make absolutely certain that not only do members have the right credentials in terms of business experience but that they fit the Opendoorz mould – if that’s not right then the group dynamics don’t click and the relationships just aren’t formed to the same degree. It’s a bit of an art and a science.’
There are two elements to Opendoorz membership criteria. The first is a potential member’s business credentials. They are:
- 1.To be an established business
- •1 year from start-up if business is aligned to previous career
- •2 yrs from start-up if it’s a new profession
- 2.To hold the position of Owner, Director or Partner
- 3.To have previous networking experience
- 4.To be able to contribute to the group in terms of calibre of contacts and connections
The second is the slightly more intangible ‘Opendoorz attributes’. The qualities that, over the years, Cathy & Sonia have identified as being those that make for a successful member and a thriving group.
Opendoorz members are;
- 1.Eager to create word of mouth recommendations
- 2.Keen for business and personal development
- 3.Able to make genuine introductions and business opportunities
- 4.Open to share experiences and knowledge with trusted, like-minded professionals
- 5.Experts within their field
Overwhelmingly, the feedback we get from guests to Opendoorz events is that the meetings are lively, relaxed affairs but with an outstanding quality of conversation and interaction. They tell us our members come across as vibrant, motivated individuals with a passion and commitment for growing their reputation and business through strong, meaningful connections.
“Anyone can set up a networking referral group.” Says Sonia. “But we are very clear that isn’t what Opendoorz is. We are a community of business professionals who share knowledge, experience and support. When those things are all in place the business side of things happens naturally and in abundance.”
Cathy agrees; “There’s nothing forced or unnatural about the Opendoorz groups. Our members genuinely like and trust each other and that’s why the quality of the business referrals is so strong.They’re serious about working together, collaborating and building strategic partnerships yet do it in a relaxed fashion that allows for a little fun too. We wouldn’t have it any other way!”
If you’d like to explore the Opendoorz potential for you and your business, get in touch to discuss an invitation to one of our guest events. We promise you’ll learn something and have lots of un on the way! https://www.opendoorz.biz/contact