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Create a “Mastermind Group” to Help Your Career

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Getting to the top of your field is a challenge, but it’s easier with the support of a strong peer network.

A group of trusted colleagues – often known as a mastermind group – can provide honest feedback, help you refine your ideas, and share insights and leads. They can also inspire you with their successes and support you when you face setbacks. Most of us have some helpful professional contacts, but if you want to be part of a community of people focused on helping one another, you’ll likely need to take action to create it.

In my new book, Stand Out, I profile Kare Anderson, an Emmy-winning former journalist who has started two mastermind groups that have been running continuously for over 20 years. Few endeavors these days can boast such longevity, and Anderson says the impact on her personal and professional life has been profound: “You look back on notes you’ve taken, and it’s a way of realizing how much we’ve evolved,” she says.

Choose members wisely.

Don’t rush into offering a group membership to someone you haven’t fully vetted – “firing” someone once they’re a member can be extremely awkward. It’s fine to target people you don’t know well as possible members, but go slow and get to know them as individuals before issuing an official invitation. Invite them out for coffee or lunch to see them in different situations. Finally, host an informal gathering of several potential members to see what the social dynamics are like. If one person dominates the conversation or creates a contentious atmosphere, perhaps he’s not the best fit. Depending on how the group is structured, the founder may have exclusive say on who joins, or – as in Kare Anderson’s case – once someone signs on, they may get an equal vote on future members.

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