4 Simple Steps to Opening Partnerships with an "O.P.E.N. House"

4 Simple Steps to Opening Partnerships with an "O.P.E.N. House"

Article highlights:

  • Hosting an open house in your lab is a great way to build informal networks of collaboration with institution partners.
  • Follow the LabLeaders “O.P.E.N. house” plan for tips on how to make your event engaging, educational, and cost-effective.
  • A successful open house can help make collaborative relationships between your lab and its current and prospective customers the new norm.

Opening moves matter. In chess, an effective opening strategy can set a player up for certain victory. In relationships, positive first impressions can set both parties up for a win-win partnership.

If your lab is looking to build new relationships within your institution, open strong by hosting a simple “open house.” It’s a great way to bring new partners into your lab right from the start. Meet them, greet them, and show them who you are and what you can do for them.

+A simple plan


You can bring new partners to your house without “bringing down the house.” Your event need not be a big production. It can be well thought out and memorable without breaking your budget. Just follow our O.P.E.N. house plan below.


Optimize your chances for success


You’ll have to do some pre-work within your lab and with your new partner to lay the foundation for a successful open house event.

  • Convene a planning committee and gain approval on a budget
  • Assign someone to liaise with departmental chairpersons in the hospital
  • Obtain permission to send invitations to their staff
  • Propose a date and time that work for both parties (after hours or during non-peak business hours)


Prepare for the open house


Partner with local merchants for a warm, authentic connection with the community

  • Team up with a town caterer to offer some refreshments—perhaps a selection of artisanal cheeses paired with non-alcoholic sparkling cider
  • Work with a local designer to create hand-crafted invitations—this lends a personal feel right from the get-go
  • Run ads in the hospital newsletter, if it has one
  • Post an announcement on the bulletin board in the employee lounge
  • Follow up with email reminders a day or two before the open house


Engage your new partners


Your open house should show off your lab, but keep things focused on building relationships and forming connections.

  • Assign a greeter to give people a warm reception as they cross your threshold
  • Tag everyone who enters with lapel stickers with their names and titles
  • Once a sizable group has gathered, invite them on a laboraTOUR
  • Task department heads with describing their areas of the lab
  • Pre-script short and simple talking points—no complicated jargon
  • Encourage conversation: solicit questions and ask people what they want and need


Normalize collaborative relationships


After your open house is over, encourage collaboration as the norm for relationships between cross-functional colleagues in the lab and hospital.

  • Debrief with team members to identify issues and opportunities that arose during the open house
  • Keep informal interactions alive—embrace every opportunity to engage with hospital colleagues
  • Send personal notes of thanks to all your hospital colleagues

Elevator encounters and other new norms


Dr. Julia Dahl describes how her organization keeps informal relationships alive with their hospital partners in the wake of a successful open house.

Inspirational ideas


Click through each of the following for fun ideas to make your open house more memorable.

Detail a speciman's journey as you walk through your lab — from the phlebotomy suite through automated track system analyses to refrigeration storage.

Just purchaces a slew of state-of-the-art microscopes? Let you new clinical colleagues put their eyes to the glass as you highlight multifunction capabilities.

Instead of jellybeans in a jar, fill one with test tubes or glass slides and ask attendees to guess how many blood samples your lab processes in a month.

Whoever comes closest to the actual answer wins a gift certificate to a local bistro.

Contributing Lab Leader

Julia Dahl, MD

Assistant Professor; Department of Pathology. Associate Director; M-Labs

Michigan Medicine

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