If you want to advance in the business world, one of the best ways to do this is to surround yourself with other people who are ambitious, connected, smart and want to help you achieve your goals. There are many names for a formal peer group, the most common being "A Mastermind Group", but whatever you call it..... there is no substitute for having a group to turn to when you are faced with making tough decisions in your career.
Eight years ago I helped form such a group. Originally there were seven members. We met twice a month, once for breakfast, the second time for happy hour. The purpose of the group was to build a team of advisors that each member could turn to for advice and support in our quest to advance our careers. We met regularly for one year. Everyone in the group saw the benefit of the association, but then a few members left the group (for various reasons). The second year there were four who remained. The four of us continued to meet for the next three years. Every member achieved great successes during that a time.
While we no longer meet regularly (one member moved away, the other left the business world to become a writer and musician), we are all still great friends who continuously turn to each other for all kinds of advice in our business and personal lives.
If you are interested in forming a business peer group, here are the steps that you should follow:
1. Find a group of five to seven like minded business peers who are not your competitors. You are not necessarily looking for your current friends. I suggest starting with one or two people you know, then each of you invite another person who is unknown to the others.
2. Establish a regular meeting time and place, I recommend twice a month at first so that you can forge deep relationships. Meeting only once a month will make it take longer to build trust and understanding with the whole group. Have everyone agree to attend regularly for one year. At the end of that year everyone can reassess if it is worth their time.
3. Commit to confidentiality among the members of the group. What is said in the peer group stays in the peer group.
4. In the beginning let each member talk about themselves and their business for a few minutes at every meeting. Once everyone knows each other's situation and aspirations, then you can allow whole meetings to be focused on one member.
5. Look for ways to help the other members of your group succeed. Do not focus on what they can do for you. The more you try to help them, the more they will return the favors.
If done correctly, this group will become like your personal board of advisors, and can help you achieve more in your career than you had ever expected. The results that can come from the power of a strong network will amaze you.
Have a great day.
PS- We are making the final edits on my book: "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships" this weekend and will be sending the manuscript to be typeset next week. It should be off the press by late July. You can pre-order the book at www.thomsinger.com