Masterminding a Member Benefit
ASSOCIATIONS NOW, May 2009 , Intelligence
|This article was inspired by an idea submitted by Kimberley Gray and Scott Oser.|
When my association's renewal statement arrived, I thought about the friendships and prestige I was enjoying through my membership. But was that enough to justify the annual dues? I was wondering if I would renew at all when I was contacted about joining a mastermind group.
A mastermind group is usually made up of individuals who are members in the same association (or in a related business without association ties) who meet by phone or in person on a regular basis to share their best practices. My mastermind experience turned out to be a very positive one. In the year that I participated, I grew my business and made five new friends from around the country with whom I spoke for an hour every two weeks. As we began to trust each other, we started to reveal our disappointments and challenges as well as our best practices.
Louellen S. Coker, president of Texas-based Content Solutions, says, "As a small business owner, participation in a mastermind group is one of the most beneficial aspects of my WBODC [Women Business Owners of Denton County] membership. Over the four years our group has met, I've developed very deep and lasting relationships with women and business owners with whom I probably would not have otherwise. As I've grown from being the only person in my business to managing five employees and various contractors—much of that in the last two months—these women have helped me to define the direction in which I want the company to grow."
There are as many types of mastermind groups as there are associations, but there are some commonalities. A key consideration: Everything that is shared is confidential. Frequency is another concern. Will the group meet weekly, biweekly, or monthly? (Biweekly or monthly seem to be preferred.) National associations, by necessity, with members spread out throughout the country, tend to host phone or virtual groups; regional or local chapters may meet in person or by phone, or a combination of the two.
Most groups seem to agree that the number of members isn't as important as the fact that, whether it's a group of three, six, 10, or 15, new members are not added after the initial group has started to bond. (If an additional member is to be added, everyone in the current group has to agree.)
Another basic issue is whether or not the group will have a facilitator. My mastermind group definitely benefited from the leadership of Julia Marrocco, who facilitated our group by setting up the logistics of the biweekly calls, sending out meeting reminders, and helping keep us on track and on schedule.
There are a few possible negatives to being in a mastermind group to keep in mind. It can be time consuming; it's a commitment of energy and focus. If one person is overly competitive or there is in-fighting between members, this can lead to frustration and discontent. Disparate skill levels among members can lead to some feeling less challenged than they wish to be and those who are less accomplished feeling lower self-esteem if they compare themselves to more successful group members.
But the potential positives are very compelling and tend to outweigh the negatives. As author and speaker Stephanie Chandler says, "Since forming my mastermind group, I have increased my rates and have far more clarity about the direction of my businesses." Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D., president of Universal Design Living Laboratory, notes about her mastermind group through the National Speakers Association: "It was because of my first mastermind group that my husband and I are building a national demonstration home in Columbus, Ohio!"
While I left my mastermind group after a year because of personal and professional time constraints, what I had gotten out of the experience made me a firm believer. As Kathryn Korostoff, president of Research Rock Star LLC, who participates in a mastermind group through The Entrepreneurs' Organization, notes, "Having a group of peers with whom I can discuss my most pressing issues eases my mind each year when I pay for my membership renewal!"
Jan Yager, Ph.D., is a work and relationship coach and workshop leader whose books include Work Less, Do More (Sterling Publishing Company, 2008). She can be reached online at www.drjanyager.com.
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