The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
It’s Small, Focused and Relationship Oriented
I’ve soured on formal networking events focused on broad and shallow groups. Hardly anyone goes to those events to do real business. In my experience, events where you get to know a few people deeply or repeatedly spark friendships. Friendships drive thought and consideration about the person without the pressure of “business.” That leads to real listening, understanding and business connections.
You’re the Least Accomplished Person in the Room
You can tell that a mastermind or networking event is worth it when you are the least accomplished, dumbest person in the room. We are the average of the five people closest to us. So you want to be meeting people who have knowledge, experience and mindsets that exceed your own. That’s how you upshift and benefit from a mastermind or event.
Attendees Don’t Speak Before They Listen
From time to time, you’ll come across “business experts” who look and sound the part, but love to pontificate based on some theoretical system or business ideology with no knowledge of the specifics of your business. If a business mastermind is worth your attention, they’ll listen more than they speak — every business is different and the specifics matter.
It’s in Your Industry/Field
I’ve seen some very smart people give very bad advice about industries they aren’t in. In my experience, there is almost never any such thing as a “mastermind” outside of their narrow field of expertise, so people with experience in your own field should be your priority. If you hear that someone is both in your field and considered amazingly talented, they should be your first introduction.
It’s Focused on Outcomes
As an active participant in a number of networking and mastermind groups (member of many, moderator of some), each serves multiple purposes. Are you seeking to generate leads? Would you like to focus exclusively on professional or personal growth? Truly, the value of any business mastermind or networking group is at the intersection of the opportunity cost of one’s time and the desired outcome.
– Scott Krawitz, PM Talent Global
You Have a Good Feeling
You’ll know when it’s become rote, just like a weekly team meeting that no longer serves a purpose. We get into the habit of doing something, and then we just keep doing it. But if you’re sitting there going, “I’ve heard that, I know that, I get it already,” you’re ready to move on. No need to intellectualize this -– just go on your gut instincts.
You’re Unimpressed Before You Go
Don’t trust that someone’s a mastermind. You’re never more than a Google search from finding out what kinds of things a person has done or written. It will only take a few minutes of reading someone’s work or accomplishments to know if he or she is as interesting as their reputation says. As long as they have a reputation, you should meet them anyway. You’ll at least learn something about charisma.
You Are Amongst Your Peers
Look at the other participants to quickly identify if the event is right for you. If you share commonalities with other members, chances are it is. If you find that you have more or less experience than others, you might be spending your time in the wrong place. Compare yourself by revenue, years in the business or customer type.
You Have Actionable Follow Ups
You should return from an event with either a head full of ideas to implement, strategies to test or a Rolodex of new contacts to foster. Events should invigorate you and help you push your business further. If you come back from an event and don’t have any action items, then it’s likely that there was little that you took away.
It Seems Like a Good Fit
Finding events or masterminds that fit you and your business are key. Business and personal needs vary drastically from person to person. Strive to match yourself with equal or slightly higher caliber attendees. This ensures you continue to grow and network with those that can provide value. Find reviews or a past attendee list and compare yourself. Will you fit in? If so, then give it a try!
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.