I was very excited when Karen asked me to write a guest post about mastermind groups, because I absolutely love mine. I look forward to the session and always come out feeling that I’ve made progress. So let’s jump right in and talk about what a mastermind group is, what the benefits are, and some factors to consider when putting a group together.
What is a mastermind group?
A mastermind group consists of like-minded people who come together to support each other in moving their businesses forward. The idea is to meet for regular, structured sessions in which each participant takes a turn at being in the limelight for an agreed period of time. When it’s your turn, you get to report on what’s happened since the last meeting, and then talk about things you’re currently working on, asking the group for feedback and ideas. You typically come away with a few action items that you plan to work on in the period before the next meeting.
Beyond that, the mastermind group can be set up according to the requirements and preferences of those involved. The number of people in the group can vary, as can the length or frequency of meetings. Some mastermind groups meet locally and face-to-face; others are online.
What are the benefits?
Sometimes it’s easier to see things clearly if you have to explain them to other people. As you start to explain, you realise where the gaps are and what you have to perhaps work on a bit more.
On the other hand, it could be that your mastermind buddies notice that you’re really on to something and encourage you to pursue it.
When discussing an issue or an idea, you may realise that you’re basing your thinking on certain assumptions, and by asking questions such as “why do you think that?” or “why not?” the other participants may help you to realise that these assumptions are not necessarily true.
When you’re working on something new, other participants can act as a sounding board, offering feedback and asking questions to help you refine your concept. Even hearing suggestions that you don’t like can help you figure out what you do want.
Participants benefit from each other’s networks. It often happens that you need something doing, and another person will say “I know someone who can help with that”. So your network expands.
People bring different experiences and perspectives to the table. If one of you is facing a particular situation and isn’t sure how to handle it, it can help to talk things through, discuss various strategies or play through scenarios.
For me, one of the most important aspects of the masterminding group is accountability. If I make a commitment to, say, write a blog post before the next meeting, I find it easier to be disciplined and actually do it, knowing that I’ll be asked about it when we meet again. Of course there are no consequences if I choose not to do my action items, but I find that the act of writing them down and telling the others in the group is very motivating.
After working with people in a mastermind group for a while, you get to understand their journey, and you know exactly what it means when they say “Hey, I achieved X this week!” It’s great to be able to offer and receive praise and encouragement.
You get to go out for breakfast! Well obviously not if you’re meeting on Skype, and of course it doesn’t have to be a breakfast meeting, but in my case we meet at a café and discuss business over scrambled egg and cappuccino. Whether online or face-to-face, it’s good to get out of your own head once in a while and meet with like-minded people.
What do you need to consider when setting up a mastermind group?
My mastermind group grew organically out of a couple of networking meetings where we felt we all got on well and could help each other. If you’re thinking of putting a group together, here are a few things to consider:
One of the most important things is that you feel comfortable with the others in the group. A mastermind group works best if you can talk openly, knowing that what you say will be treated confidentially. And since we often talk about ideas in their early stages, it’s important to know that nobody’s going to run off with them.
The whole point of a mastermind group is that everyone has something to add, everyone benefits. So it’s important to have a feeling of balance – otherwise it can turn into a one-way coaching session, which is not necessarily beneficial for the person in the coaching role.
Similar yet Different
Your mastermind buddies should be people you can relate to and who will understand what you’re going through. But at the same time it is tremendously beneficial to be in a group of people with complementary skills, different ways of thinking and networks that don’t overlap too much.
An important factor to consider is whether you want to be in a group with people from your industry or from a mix of industries. There are advantages to both approaches: people from your own industry will have a good understanding of issues you may be facing, while people from other industries bring a fresh perspective.
The mastermind concept works best if all of you are committed to meeting up regularly, so it’s important to find people who, perhaps after a trial period, are prepared to stick at it in the medium to long term.
How to find mastermind buddies
There are as many ways to find mastermind buddies as there are to network. Mastermind concepts are offered in various business groups on Facebook or LinkedIn. Alternatively you could join up with colleagues you’ve met at conferences or networking events, or interacted with online.
I’ll offer just a couple of links out of many:
One of my own mastermind buddies, Thomas Lorbacher, now offers a Germany-based service that brings like-minded people together to form mastermind groups (http://mastermind.covisto.de/)
And there is a brand-new Facebook group that offers a platform for translators interested in mastermind groups or other types of collaboration (https://www.facebook.com/groups/standingoutexchange)
I would definitely recommend joining (or forming) a mastermind group. I’ve come to know my mastermind buddies very well and we all help each other stay on track with our businesses. Add to that the opportunity to go out for breakfast every two weeks, and you’ve got a winning combination.
Author: Jane Eggers is a British freelance translator who lives in Heidelberg, Germany and specialises in IT and all-round English-language support for small businesses. Her website is here: www.jane-eggers-translations.de.