THE BLOG

Mastermind Groups: Top 10 Steps to Setting Up Your Dream Support Network

18/06/2013 16:50 BST | Updated 18/08/2013 10:12 BST

You don't have to do it alone. Whatever you want to achieve, whether in developing your own business or progressing your career, you will get much closer to achieving your true potential if you are open to support from your network.

Surround yourself with a network of people with different experiences, expertise and way of looking at problems and develop strong relationships with them. If you have deep levels of trust with each other you have an incredibly powerful resource to call on whenever you need new ideas or new approaches to the challenges you face.

In addition, a strong network can provide you with the accountability and cheerleading we all need at some point to drive us on in our quest to be the best we can possibly be.

Of course, this isn't a one-way process. You can't just aim to build a network whose sole function is to be there to support you in your journey. You are part of that network too and should be just as willing to offer your experience and insights and to cheer others on, as you are to accept support.

There are many ways to tap into a strong support network, from informal calls to ask for advice to formal mentoring arrangements. One of the most powerful ways to seek such support is Mastermind Groups.

Napoleon Hill first brought the concept of 'Master Mind Groups' to the public attention in his book Think and Grow Rich in 1938. In the book Hill said:

"No individual may have great power without availing himself of the 'Master Mind'.

"Economic advantages may be created by any person who surrounds himself with the advice, counsel, and personal cooperation of a group of men who are willing to lend him wholehearted aid, in a spirit of PERFECT HARMONY. This form of cooperative alliance has been the basis of nearly every great fortune."

More recently, in his book The Start Up of You, Reid Hoffman shares the story of Joseph Priestley, a young amateur scientist who, in 1765, was running experiments in a makeshift laboratory in the English countryside.

Hoffman explains that Priestley "was exceptionally bright but isolated from any peers, until one December day when he travelled into London to attend the Club of Honest Whigs. "The brainchild of Benjamin Franklin, the club was like an eighteenth-century version of the networking groups that exist today. Franklin, who was in England promoting the interests of the American colonies, convened his big thinking friends at the London Coffee House on alternating Thursdays.

"Priestley attended to get feedback on a book idea about scientists' progress on understanding electricity. He got much more than feedback. Franklin and his friends swelled in support of Priestley; they offered to open their private scientific libraries to him. They offered to review drafts of his manuscript. The offered their friendship and encouragement. Crucially Priestley reciprocated all the way.

"In short, Priestley's night at the coffeehouse dramatically altered the trajectory of his career. Priestley went from semi-isolation to plugging into 'an existing network of relationships and collaborations that the coffee house environment facilitated'. He went on to have an illustrious scientific and writing career, famously discovering the existence of oxygen."

Mastermind groups have been an important tool in the development of my own business and career. In many of my talks I share the story of how advice from one such group helped prevent our business from sliding into disaster and, instead, supported us in making a very brave decision to write off big losses and turn the venture around into something very different.

I have been, and remain, involved in mastermind groups with fellow entrepreneurs and fellow professional speakers. All of which have been instrumental in the growth of our business.

Within some of my workshops I run a '5 minute mini-mastermind' and it's been incredible to witness the power of bringing groups of people together at random, with no notice or preparation time, to address a challenge and find solutions. Not one group has ever found the session without value and they remain one of the most popular parts of my workshops.

If mastermind groups can have such an impact when put together in such a random way, just how powerful could they be if you focused your attention on getting the most out of them?

Over the following two blogs I will share with you my top ten steps to help you get just that value.

Steps 1-5

Steps 6-10