Setting up your own mastermind groupOf course, if you sit around waiting to be asked to be part of a mastermind group, you might be waiting a long time. (Or not. But if you haven't been asked, do what I did.) I thought about a few people I knew who had a similar philosophy to me about running their solo business, and who I also knew had lots of motivation, great ideas of their own that would help me too, and were, of course, nice people who I would love to see more of. And then, with a bit of nervousness, I emailed them with the idea of forming a mastermind group.
Guess what? They said yes! So, since the beginning of 2014, I have had wonderfully inspiring monthly meetings with Natasha Lester and Anita Fredericks. We have a loose format to our meetings, which involves each of us reporting on what's been going well for us during the past month, and what our goals are for the next month, and asking for help and advice.
I'm sure Natasha and Anita would agree that our little group has been super-helpful this year. I love that we are all in different areas - Natasha is a novelist and teaches writing, Anita is in health and wellness and makes a ripper chocolate (healthy-style - perfect!), and I oscillate between being a travel blogger and a social media and blogging trainer. I think it helps that we're each interested in what the others do - I'm not sure I'd work well with a mastermind partner who sold machinery parts or something, for example! - but that we're different enough to be able to offer alternative ideas and approaches.
Just having that "pressure" (in a good way) of our monthly meeting, knowing that I'll be reporting back on what I have or haven't done, is a great motivator in itself. Being able to get advice and opinions that I value - especially in the new online world, since many people I talk to barely know what I do! - is fabulous. And Anita's chocolates are good too :-)
How do you set up your own mastermind? It's really as easy as asking. Obviously if you don't yet know the kind of people who you would like to mastermind with (I was lucky - Natasha and Anita were both former clients who I'd followed long enough to realise they would be a perfect fit) then you need to get involved with some networking groups, either in person or on Facebook, and find some people who might be "your" people. It might not work out the first time (I was lucky), but keep trying and it will. There is now lots of information online about mastermind groups - last year I remember sharing this piece from Chris Ducker which helped us decide how to run ours. I'm lucky (I think) in that we can hold our mastermind face-to-face - I think it works better - but I know other people who do them online using Google Hangouts and they love that too.
Chatting with a mentor or accountability partnerThe other great thing I started doing this year (which was not my clever idea but I'm so glad it happened) was to set up fortnightly chats with a fellow blogger with similar goals to me who also knew where I was coming from. I met Dannielle Cresp (of Style for a Happy Home) online first - I'm pretty sure it was on Twitter (am I right, Dannielle?) and then we met in person at the first Problogger I went to in 2013. Dannielle suggested we keep in touch with some Skype chats (she lives in Victoria) and that has turned into regular fortnightly catch ups. (And a face-to-face catch up on the Gold Coast at the 2014 Problogger, which was brilliant!)
Dannielle and I don't have a specific format but we do talk a lot about our blogs and our work and try to set some accountability goals, stuff we'll have achieved before the next time we talk. I usually speak to Dannielle on a day when I don't generally book clients or workshops in so she's my only human contact that working day, and that makes her very important! Additionally I think of her as something of a mentor because she knows lots of stuff I don't - her technical skills with stuff like WordPress are way ahead of me, she has design skills, and of course she's my Pinterest guru (her Practical Pinning course dramatically changed the readership of my blog this year!). She also loves strawberry milkshakes, just like me. Perfect or what?
Why you should gather fellow online-type people around you, tooWhatever brings you to read my blog, you are probably involved with something - be it blogging or social media or online business - that not many people know about. Most people in my "real world" every day life don't have much of a handle on what I do ... "you're that web design person, aren't you?" (totally no skill there, I'm afraid) or "you do something with websites and training, right?" It helps enormously to regularly meet up with people who DO get what you do. When an online-type friend says to me, "You won't believe who just retweeted my blog post!" then I totally get it and celebrate with them.
On top of that, having to talk out loud, to people who understand, about your goals and dreams and hopes for your online work, well, this makes all the difference to how much you achieve. Writing down these plans is effective, but telling someone, and knowing you'll see them in another month and want to tell them you actually did it, well that makes it WAY more effective.
If I could suggest one thing you could do to improve your online work, it would not be to post more blog posts, or to use Pinterest properly (although both of these would be good too!) - it would be to get some people together and see them regularly. Whether you find a mastermind group, a mentor, an accountability partner, or even just a fellow blogger to catch up with in person for a coffee so that you know someone who understands the basics of what you love doing, I say: DO IT!