april-networking-2015-2By Susan de Vriend

Last week, the WBII offered a very interesting networking event. It was all about mastermind groups or as they call them in Belgium, Intervision groups.

The idea of coming together with other like-minded and goal oriented individuals is very appealing to many business owners especially the new ones. But this presentation from Els Schepens was going to be a bit more in-depth on how to get one started and what guidelines to follow as a group.

Els began her presentation by giving a definition of both Mastermind and Intervision groups. Then she took us through some basics of a group formulation.

A group, according to Els model, should not be more than 12 people; with 8 people is an ideal group and 4 as the absolute minimum. She also added that to be successful with your time to have the meetings last for 2 hours, or minimum 1 1/2 hour. The group should come together with a specific similarity whether it is because of similar problem or as she put it “participants with similar questions” or the same professional background.

Anatomy of a Mastermind Group

Els gave the anatomy of a basic Mastermind group meeting using her model. According to this model, there are 5 phases:

  1. Introduction
  2. Analysis and Awareness
  3. Advice, Reflection and Action
  4. Group Topic
  5. Evaluation and Agreements

Each phase has a set amount of time. For example, the introduction should only last as long as 10 minutes. Because the introduction is a short allotment, Els advised that there should be a designated time manager. This is a way to prevent people from getting caught up in socialising rather than focusing on the work the group came together to do. In some groups, she said, it is wise to have time set aside ahead of the meeting so people can catch up and chat freely.

Every phase in the model has their own extensive guidelines on how a topic, case study or member issue should be processed within the body of the Mastermind.

Several things that jumped out at me that I thought were of interest:

      • In phase two: Analysis and awareness, the group asks only informative questions after a member presents a topic or issue. You should suggest things but not judge.
      • Phase 3 allows for advice, reflection and action. Here members can offer help to one another. One item in this phase that Els talked on was giving insight and advice in written form to the member with the topic. She described how nice it is to get from each member their thoughts on your issue after the meeting.
      • Phase 4 Group Theme, it involves everyone in the meeting.
      • Phase 5: Evaluation and agreements, here is where everyone evaluates the meeting itself with questions like: how did you experience this session? This is where everyone gets something from the meeting.

Rules and Protocols

Els explained that before meetings there are some foundational rules and protocols that members of the mastermind group should have arranged. Some of these things were rules on attendance and participation. For example, how should it be handled if there is one member who is consistently absent?

Regarding things like preparation for the meetings themselves; should it be prior to a meeting? And if so; how that should be handled via email or written documentation to be mailed via post.

If there are leaders who run the meetings should another practical thing be a back up if the person leading should be ill, and should there be a rotation so everyone gets to lead at some point?

Is there someone who takes meeting minutes or is it on the member to handle their own note taking?

Some other practical tips she offered were things on frequency and duration of meetings. Some things to consider are if the group is assembled for a finite period of time (6 months) or an indefinite period.

She then spoke on trust and safety within the group dynamic. Of course, the mastermind should offer a place where it is safe to speak your mind and that everything remains within the group confidentially.

She also said that each person needs to be their own leader and in this she was saying that you should take responsibility for what you want inside the group.

april-networking-2015-1This half hour presentation was chock full of great tips and advice on how to get a professional mastermind group started. It was also very educational on how to get one operating at an optimum level where all members can benefit.

I’m especially looking forward to participating in a mastermind group that has discussed applying some, if not all, of Els model and guidelines.

All in all, it was an excellent presentation.