What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘mastermind group’?

A shadowy organisation, bent on world domination – a group James Bond might be tasked with stopping?

Whatever comes to mind, the reality for professionals is something far less scary! After reading this article, I believe you will associate the term with ‘opportunity’.

This is because becoming part of a mastermind group can be a very effective way to boost your business. It is a chance for dedicated legal business owners to benefit from collaboration with like-minded individuals – a chance to create a collective which is greater than the sum of its parts.

So what is a mastermind group?

Essentially, a mastermind group is a small group of peers, who meet regularly to provide support and help to each other. By surrounding yourself with brilliant people who will challenge you and push you further, you can bring out the best in yourself. As you know working as a Sole Practitioner or Legal Business Owner can be a lonely job. This is because you bear the sole responsibility of both the legal service and the business side yourself.

This is what a mastermind group aims to do for each of its members.

What could a mastermind group do for you?

‘Bringing out the best in you’ may sound like quite an abstract concept. So what are the tangible benefits of a mastermind group?

I have personally experienced many practical advantages of joining a mastermind group. Here are just some of the them:

  • Access to specialist skill and knowledge

In a similar way to the TV quiz show, Mastermind, participants each bring their own knowledge of certain specialist subjects. One member of the mastermind group may know a lot about one topic, another may have their own unique area of expertise. Even though both members may know very little about the other’s specialist area, they have access to each other’s detailed knowledge through the mastermind group. Effectively, each member can ‘borrow’ the strengths of other members.

Another way to access and present each other’s skill is to deliver an event that utilises these for your potential and actual clients.

  • Accountability, feedback, and constructive criticism

To continue the comparison with the Mastermind quiz show – after all ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’ – some groups operate a ‘hot-seat’ system similar to that in the show. Members take it in turns to be the central focus for the group. When it is your turn to sit in the ‘hot’ seat, it gives the group the opportunity to think about what you are doing in your business, assess where you could improve, and measure your progress from your last turn in a fully supportive way.

Being accountable to the group in this way, and having to report back on your progress, gives a strong incentive to stick to your objectives. You may have great stores of self-discipline but, even so, external accountability is an excellent motivator.

  • Mentoring and support from people in the same situation as you.

Who would be better placed to understand the problems you encounter in your business than a group of fellow Sole Practitioners and Business Owners? These members of a mastermind group will have almost certainly experienced the same challenges which you are currently facing. They can share the ways in which they overcame these challenges, or at least offer understanding of what you are experiencing. This support does not need to wait until the next meeting but is just a phone call away or in my case – coffee and cake! Some mastermind groups provide you with the option of a monthly coaching meeting with the Chair.

  • Strong networking connections

With regular meetings, mastermind groups will naturally form close-knit networking units. New business, referrals, trusted connections, exciting opportunities, even whole networks can all be shared more easily within a group of professionals who know and trust one another. In other words, mastermind group members have each other’s backs.

  • New perspectives

Have you ever felt ‘blinkered’ in your business outlook? In the right mastermind group you have access to many different perspectives not just different skills. Discussing issues with group members may present a number of ways in which to resolve certain problems – ways that you may never have thought of in isolation.

So how do you join the right mastermind group?

  1. Set out the reasons you want to join so that you can check with the Chair or Organiser it these fit with your requirements.
  2. Ask how the group operates, and on what basis, so that you can assess whether a group has a collaborative way of working.
  3. Perhaps speak to a member if you don’t already know them.

You should watch out for:

  • Directionless meetings, or groups, which do not have strong leadership and organisation.
  • Members not taking the group seriously, perhaps by failing to attend regularly or not entering into the spirit of cooperation. Please note a mastermind group is a big commitment of your time and energy so only join one if you are serious about success for you and the others in the group.
  • Remote mastermind groups – such as online only groups or those that ‘meet’ through conference calls if this is not your preferred method of support.

All of these things can reduce the focus and productive atmosphere required for good group meetings, in turn undermining the effectiveness of the mastermind group concept.

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