July 2022: Expanding Your Network with Peer Groups


Hello CMAA! How many of you belong to a peer/mastermind/support group – or more than one? I counted mine and I have four that are really core to my interests and principles. They range from a kitchen cabinet within CMAA that I look to for insight and feedback, to a couple of industry peer groups, and a core group within my own professional association. I would be lost without them and leverage them often.

These groups have helped as I have managed through business situations. They have helped as my career has evolved. They have helped me get through some personal challenges as well. While I have also had one-to-one mentor relationships, these groups have been invaluable in my life. I just finished an article from the Harvard Business Review on maximizing the value of peer or support groups, and wanted to summarize some of its findings this month. As I reviewed these findings, I discovered the success factors for groups noted within the article very much paralleled my own groups’ failures and success. So, I share this in hopes that this knowledge will help make your own peer or mastermind groups a bit better. If you don’t have a group, I am hopeful this will inspire you to create your own.

Composition – Composition of the group is key (large enough, similar enough, diverse enough, respected enough, of a quality that can help me, and I can help others in the group, etc.).

Commitment and Agreement – Does the group have the same mindset from ensuring confidentiality, to addressing common issues, to being open and vulnerable, and agree to meeting as the group determines?

Format – Does the format of the time the group is together maximize the value of the group’s purpose? I have been part of groups with a formal presentation followed by discussion, and I’ve also been part of groups that get together for lunch monthly with no formal agenda. One was not more or less valuable, but everyone agreed to the format and had the same mindset of the value it would personally bring to the participants.

Administration – Is there a leader of the group or is that a shared responsibility? Every group has a certain amount of organizational oversight from planning meetings to acting as a moderator. Agreement about how the administration among participants will work is one of those key factors that can cause a group to fail. In my opinion, no one way is better than the other, but deciding in advance how the group will be administered is paramount for success 

Whether you’re early or well along in your career, I suggest you start (or keep) developing your own groups. Our CMAA Business Management Institutes (BMI) programs are a fantastic way to begin the journey of creating a group or adding another group to help you with life and career decisions. As you are sitting in BMI classes, spending evenings with your fellow attendees, and getting to know them, you should also be thinking about which of your peers fit the criteria for a long-term friendship, mentorship, and partnership in a peer group. Then make it happen. 

CMAA Connect, our online community, is another way to target those you might want to form a peer group with. Thanks to the pandemic, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other video abilities have become normalized, so peer groups are no longer restricted by geography. If you haven’t had the chance to, I encourage you to look into CMAA’s member interest groups, like the Wine Society, Women in Club Management, and the club type groups (yacht, city, etc.); some of these well-established groups regularly connect about best practices, struggles, and/or learning opportunities and are always looking for more people to get involved. Maybe you can even suggest a few more member communities to start! 

Some of the peer/mastermind groups that have formed due to their affiliation with CMAA have cool names, others have annual retreats, and others pick books to read and use as a basis for discussion. There is no right or wrong way to leverage a group’s value. I feel very strongly that having groups to support you in life and in your career is a must. CMAA is all about community, about sharing, and about supporting each other. CMAA members are naturally inclined to gather and share, so get out there and maximize the value of your membership as well as your peers with your own groups! 

Until next month,


PS: The 2022 Finance and Operations Survey is currently open. All CMAA Members have received an invitation from Industry Insights to participate in this important research effort. By participating, you will receive the data you need for informed decision making. As a participant, you will receive a complimentary copy of the full industry report plus an Individual Club Report, with your own club’s financial and operating statistics reported alongside the appropriate industry comparatives. I encourage you to submit your information by August 5.