Is it just me, or does the internet, vast as it is, feel very lonely sometimes?
We’re all sitting here in front of our computers, doing our thing, wondering if we can make a living online, reading other people’s stuff, but still feeling very much like we’re alone in a desert. Our goals, when we set them at the beginning of the year, seem impossible to reach on the day-to-day, so we stop working toward them. We may even give up, and double down on our day jobs (or look for a different, more fulfilling day job).
But you and I both know we’re not alone. Approximately a bajillion new websites are created every day (real statistic, totally not made up), and behind each of those websites lives a real person, with goals that are not dissimilar to ours.
We just have to meet those people, and tell them our goals, and listen when they tell us theirs.
That, my friends, is what a mastermind group can do for you.
What is a Mastermind Group?
It’s one of those internet-fancy terms that probably has ten different meanings. The way I think about it, though, is that it’s a group of like-minded people who can help support each other. The way I came up with the one I’m currently in, though, was to meet a couple of really cool people at FinCon who I wanted to keep in touch with and who I couldn’t immediately figure out how to keep them in my life without setting up a group.
That sounds creepy. But it’s not intended to be. You know how you meet someone who seems really cool? They’re doing big things, or they have a personality that matches yours (Kara, one of the members of my group, asked if I wanted to meet for coffee when she was in Portland, and our coffee date lasted three hours!). You can even do this online. Anne and I started talking over Twitter, then email, then gchat, and now we can’t get out of each other’s lives even if we tried! Andrea is similar — we talk at least three times a week and I don’t think we’ve seen each other in more than four years. Heck, even Joe and I were in a mastermind group before we became business partners!
I know you’ve found people like this. I’m not talking the “big names” or people that intimidate you — I’m talking blogs that feel like yours. Blogs that reach the same audience. Writers who use turns of phrases that make you think, “dude, we could be friends.” Maybe you’ve commented on each other’s blogs, maybe you’ve chatted on Twitter, maybe you’re in the same Facebook groups. Those are the people you should have on your team, so to speak.
How to Create a Mastermind Group
Once you start thinking about the people you could see yourself talking to on a regular basis, start having conversations. Gauge interest by sending tweets, emails, etc. Note: think small here — you don’t want to have more than four people in your group, and a group with less than three people is really just a meeting. My mastermind group has three people, and we’d be comfortable having a fourth, but we haven’t thought of the right person (although I have an idea right now as I’m typing this, so maybe by the time this post gets published we’ll have a fourth!). Ask your first person, then see if he or she has any ideas on who else should join. Spread out your proficiencies. If you’re all experts on Facebook ads, you might not learn as much in any given meeting as you would if you had people who were good at other things.
Questions to Ask when Forming Your Mastermind Group
Consider the following:
- How often will you meet? Every week? Every other week?
- How long will your meetings go? Remember, you have to respect each other’s time. Even if you’re just starting out, you want to make sure if you’re meeting for an hour a week, you stop your meetings when the hour is up.
- When will you meet? Is everyone still working a day job? Then, you’ll have to decide whether to meet before or after work. Where does everyone live? Can you find a time that works for everyone?
- What will you discuss? I’ve been in groups where we’d rotate and focus on one person at a time. They’d either talk about what they needed or what they could provide (sometimes both), and the group would rally around them. The group I’m in now is all about weekly accountability. Both work. There’s nothing keeping us from switching things up if one of us needs more support.
“Meet” so You Can See People’s Faces
There are eleventy ways to communicate, but my favorite for mastermind groups is to see everyone’s face. Garrett does a lot of coaching in his job, so we use Zoom to have a face-to-face call. If you don’t have the need for a tool like that, use appear.in, which is a website where you’ll set up a chat room. But unlike the AOL days of yore, the chat room you set up will be the URL you share with the other members of your group and it’ll turn on everyone’s cameras.
This goes a long way to making you feel like you’re in the same room, even if your room stretches three time zones.
How to Structure Your Mastermind Group Calls
Now that you’re all set up and can see each other, what do you talk about? Feel free to share personal stories (you did create a mastermind group out of people you want to be friends with, right?) and connect to each other in a normal way, but then, start talking about your websites.
We meet on Tuesday mornings, and the structure of our calls is this:
1. How Did Last Week Go?
We spend a few minutes talking about what we accomplished, and what we failed to accomplish, last week. What was awesome? What got in the way? Where can we do better this upcoming week? Which leads us straight into the next question.
2. What is Everyone’s #1 Goal This Week?
What is the one thing you are going to do (or finish) by the end of this week? This is my favorite question, because it shows how different each member of my group is. Our goals are never ever the same. Often they’re not even in the same universe. But since we meet on Tuesday, we’ve already had one day to think about (and work toward, hopefully) our #1 goal.
3. How Can We Help You?
This one is really awesome. When I did my first webinar, I was worried no one would show up. But my mastermind people did! And knowing that they were there kept me motivated. What’s funny is, I found out the following Tuesday that neither one of them were able to join when it started, but they both joined for the time they could, then offered feedback.
We discuss other things as they come up, but those three questions often fill up the entire hour.
Keep Track of Each Other Throughout the Week
I like having two people who I can chat with about quick things throughout the week. We set up a Slack channel, then Garrett set up a robot that asks us our weekly goals on Monday and gives us a chance to recap those goals on Friday.
When I run across something that might be helpful to either of my mastermind group friends, I plop it in the channel. We do quick “can you look at this before it goes out?” edits.
I’ve been in twice-a-month mastermind groups and once-a-week groups. Both have their advantages, but it feels like I get more out of my mastermind group when I meet with them every week.
Creating or joining a mastermind group is like joining an office group. Only we don’t have offices, so we meet remotely. If you feel like you’re going at this alone, or if you need accountability partners, start a mastermind group. Because the myth of the solopreneur is just that: a myth. None of us should do this 100% on our own.