How to Start and Run Your Own Mastermind Group
by Stephanie Chandler
Some of the most successful people in history have leveraged the power of mastermind groups, a concept that was introduced in Napoleon Hill's best-selling book "Think and Grow Rich." The purpose of a mastermind group is to exchange and refine ideas, while assisting each other in reaching goals. From experience I can tell you that the right group can create spectacular results.
While you can seek out an existing group, a more powerful option is to start and manage your own group. This will give you the opportunity to cultivate a group with the right level of experience and synergy. Following are some suggestions for getting started.
Develop Meeting Structure and Frequency
Knowing how often your group will meet and where those meetings will take place are some primary considerations. Some groups meet weekly by phone, some meet monthly in a local conference room, while others meet quarterly. If your group is geographically disbursed you will need to facilitate conference calls or meetings at a remote location such as a resort or hotel.
While establishing frequency, a big consideration is how many members you will have and how long meetings will last. Since the purpose of the group is to brainstorm and leverage each other's experience and advice, each member needs a chance to be heard. Some groups rotate this benefit around, while others make sure each member receives focused time at every meeting.
The amount of time you can allot to each person depends on how many people are involved. If you have a group with ten people and each gets 20 minutes to present their ideas and challenges, you will need about three and a half hours of spotlight time, plus extra time for breaks and transition. Keeping the group size small--six to twelve people--allows members to each benefit from more focused time.
Select Your Members
While you could place an ad on Craigslist or Meetup.com to find members for your group, I encourage you to hand-pick participants. Your group should be a safe place for fleshing out ideas, which involves a level of trust among members. Also, consider the different skill levels you want to bring to your group. Some people are highly creative and generate a lot of ideas, while others are detail-oriented and can serve in the role of devil's advocate. Both types of people should be included in your group to keep the creativity flowing, and to refine ideas and uncover potential road blocks.
You might also want your group to consist of people with specific skills. For example, someone with a financial background can help focus on the numbers, while someone with internet skills can bring online marketing ideas to the table. Consider carefully what roles you want filled and how these roles can compliment each other.
Experience is also an important consideration. The point of a mastermind group is to collectively help each other grow your respective businesses. With that in mind, the members should consist of people who have been around for awhile. If you fill the room with new business owners, more experienced members may feel like they are carrying the load and won't stick around for long.
Your group will benefit from some policies that outline what is expected of members. These guidelines could include a mission statement that describes the purpose of the group, an attendance policy to ensure members are committed to participating regularly, and a confidentiality agreement.
Inevitably members will need to be replaced when they leave the group for any number of reasons. It is wise to outline a member selection process with guidelines for nominating and inducting new members. For example, you might want to exclude anyone who could potentially be a competitor of an existing member. You might also invite potential new members in on a trial basis before voting to make things permanent.
Keep the Momentum Going
Strong leadership is essential in setting the tone for the group, inspiring members to participate, and ensuring that the time is well spent. If someone is disrupting the group or affecting its level of quality, it is up to the leader to deal with the situation. The leader must also coordinate and manage an agenda effectively.
Ongoing communication is also required. E-mail is the standard for keeping in touch, but you might consider developing a private online forum through Yahoo Groups or Groupsite.com. This can provide a central place for members to share information in between meetings and further build the kind of bond that is essential to the success of your group.
Some members will thrive from the accountability that can come with a mastermind group, while others will be inspired by the exchange of ideas. Celebrate each other's successes and make sure the group is focused on helping members take giant leaps forward. This is the ultimate pay-off of a good mastermind group. It serves as a mutually beneficial tool for helping its members advance their businesses.
Stephanie Chandler may be contacted at http://StephanieChandler.com
Stephanie Chandler is an author of several books including “LEAP! 101 Ways to Grow Your Business” and “From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur: Make Money with Books, eBooks and Information Products.” She is also the founder of http://BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs. For additional author and speaker details, visit http://StephanieChandler.com.