1. What is Your Definition of a Mastermind Group?

You need to know how the group organizer defines a business-related mastermind. You want to be absolutely sure their vision is in alignment with your vision. You can use the definition provided in this post at MastermindJam.com as a guide.

2. What is the Format of this Mastermind Group: Peer or Guru?

Will this will be primarily a peer-driven mastermind group, or a guru-led mastermind group? The answer can sometimes change the way the meetings are run, the way membership is defined, and the ways goals are tracked.

3. What is the Purpose of this Mastermind Group?

Is this group focused on all of the core objectives (accountability, advice, encouragement, feedback, results), or is it hyper-focused on just one of those goals? If the group is only focused on accountability, for example, you may still find you’re starved for advice, feedback, and encouragement. Consider this carefully.

4. How Often Does This Group Meet?

Keeping meetings to a regular schedule is a must, but the frequency of that schedule is entirely up to the needs of the group.

Meet too frequently, and people feel rushed and overwhelmed. Meet too infrequently, and people lose touch and feel less accountable to the group.

Be open to the possibility that the frequency of the meetings can change as the group progresses.

For example, at first, a weekly meeting may get people started off on the right foot. Then, after seven or eight weeks, relax the schedule to a biweekly or monthly accountability check-in with an option to call an emergency meeting if there’s some issue a member needs assistance and advice with.

Be flexible, be clear.

5. How are the Meetings Structured?

Some groups have rigid operating procedures written in lengthy documents that all members sign and agree to adhere to.

There are groups with a three-strike policy for missing goals or meetings, while from others you’ll just get the much-feared furrowed brow of disappointment.

Other groups feel that grown-ups shouldn’t need rigid policies and procedures, so they opt to have none at all, and missing a meeting is no big deal as long as you give a heads-up in advance.

While I’ve outlined some extremes there, the truth for your group will probably be somewhere in the middle.

There’s no right or wrong answer: you simply need to be clear and ask up-front what the structure will be, what the expectations are, and how those expectations are codified and enforced.

6. Where Will We Meet?

Will this be an in-person mastermind that meets at a local coffee shop, or will we be holding our meetings online using video conference software like Google Hangouts, Appear, or Skype?

7. How Will We Keep Track of our Goals and Progress?

Asking up front how the notes are kept for each meeting will reveal a lot about the group structure and the level of commitment that is expected from group members.

Don’t forget to ask who will be writing up these notes each meeting.

8. How Do You Measure Success of Your Mastermind Group?

We all join mastermind groups to help us achieve some goal, or some set of goals. If there is a desirable outcome in mind at the start, then how do we know when we’ve crossed that finish line?

9. How Much Does the Mastermind Group Cost?

Mastermind groups can cost as little or as much as you like, truthfully. Many mastermind groups are free. Some are just a group of peers that met in an internet forum like Fizzle.co or a Redditt discussion that decided to keep meeting together; heck, they may not even call it a mastermind group. Some groups are intentionally formed, with lengthy interviews and applications and fees.

At MastermindJam, we’ve found that paid mastermind groups have better levels of commitment from their members.

It’s a well-known phenomenon that we perceive something we’ve paid for as more valuable than the exact same thing acquired for free. Likewise, mastermind group members who have paid for the group find themselves much more motivated in the group. The fee is simply a tool to keep people engaged and committed.

10. What is the Time Commitment?

Will the group “expire” after a certain amount of time, or do you plan to continue the group indefinitely?

The thought of joining a mastermind group with no expiration date scares some people. What if I don’t like these people after a year? What if our businesses start to diverge in radically different directions than when we started? For these people, I urge them to consider a three or six-month commitment to the group. If all is going well, then you can always keep going for another term. If not, you can find a new group.

Conversely, some people hate the thought of joining a group they know will end at some point in the future. Why go through all the hassle of forming the “perfect group” if it’s all going to end? My answer to this mindset is to remember that, first, there is no “perfect” group, and second, expiration dates aren’t set in stone. As long as people stay flexible, you can always change the time period as you go along.

Let’s be honest, all mastermind groups will—and should—come to an end at some point, so it’s best to discuss this eventuality up front.

11. Who will be in our group?

On the surface, putting people into the group sounds like it should be the easiest part of the process. On the contrary, hastily picking people to join a mastermind group is proven to be the most common reason for mastermind groups to fail.

Surely, we can all agree that the people in your business mastermind group need to be a good fit for you and your personality.

You have to like them, at least on some level!

You’re going to get to know these people intimately, you’re going to learn to trust them and value their feedback and advice. You may know the names of their spouse and kids.

But there’s more to it than congeniality.

And frankly, some of the questions you need to ask a potential member of your mastermind group are anything but polite questions. In a polite social setting, or even at a networking event, you wouldn’t ask these questions. And if you did ask these questions, you probably wouldn’t get invited back.

However, these questions are absolutely crucial to getting into the right group.

I recommend softening the blow a bit before asking these questions. If someone says to you, “hey, maybe we should start a mastermind group together,” your response could be: “thanks for thinking of me! But, if you’re really serious about this, I need to ask you some really tough, prying questions to be sure its a great use of your time and my time. Are you up for that?”

If they say yes, then make sure you read the next article. In Part 3, I give you questions to help you pick the right people to join your group.

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