Today saw another exceptional networking event at St Ives Business Lounge in Cambridgeshire and I wanted to share with you the reasons why this type of networking is (in my opinion) imperative for small business owners and freelancers.
Ed Goodman runs, for those of us that attend, a mastermind session where up to twelve individuals come together to support two of the group with their current challenge. We all get to ask a question about that challenge and then we all get to suggest solutions by telling the group what we do if it were our own challenge.
This is not about selling, this is not about self-promotion and it is most certainly not about ego. This is about good old fashioned support. This was no truer than it was today as we experienced two of the most emotion based challenges to date. And the support in the room was as supportive as it could be.
The issues that come up are varied and come from an even more varied group of businesses. We have seen everything from how to remotely project manage a contract to clear up damage caused by oil spills to how to deal with the imposter syndrome, from how to start up to how to create your exit strategy.
So why do I think this type of networking is so important to the small business owner? Well here are my top reasons:
1. Pure and simple support – we all face challenges in our business and we can all spend hours reading books and learning new tricks. The joy in this set up though is that you go along and gain more knowledge and experience from eleven other brains in two hours than you could gain in two weeks of solid reading. Because we hear the challenge you personally face, because we can all relate to the challenge, because we don’t want someone else to plough through what we can help you sail through.
2. Company – You know what even the most introvert, tech friendly individuals get lonely. We all need people, we all need to bounce ideas around, we all learn from others and we all need to laugh (we need to laugh a lot more). We can get so bogged down with the day to day and the detail of our challenge that we can’t see the wood from the trees anymore. The company and the banter helps us to gain some clarity.
3. An ego boost – Ironically the groups I have attended have never been about ego, they have not been about who the best is, who has the best ideas and who has the best business. But it has been about reminding people that ‘you’ve got this’ and ‘you can do it’. We all doubt our ability from time to time and I see so many business owners battling the imposter syndrome. I love letting people know that they are awesome and they can do anything they put their minds too. The rest of the group are just as brilliant at doing this too. Positivity breeds positivity as I see it.
4. Accountability – Ha ha, you have to come back. You present your challenge but you have to come back and let the group know what you implemented from the suggestions that they offered you which means you have to put something into action and then let us all know the outcomes. This means we hold you to account and that in itself means that people take action.
There are many other reasons and I would be happy to share more thoughts with anyone that would like to know more but for now, these are the main ones. And, interestingly not one of them is about winning new work and yet that has been a benefit of regular attendance.
I absolutely love this method and want to thank all the people I have met over the last eighteen months of attending for all the creative solutions, all the challenging questioning, all the work and support, love and banter. You guys all rock.
If you haven’t tried masterminding yet and would like to learn more, please give me a shout and I would be happy to take you along with me to see what I mean. firstname.lastname@example.org