Starting a mastermind group can be daunting, but it’s not impossible.

With the technology available today, it is not difficult to create an online space where people can gather in real-time. Although tools and services change rapidly over time, I currently use a service known as Zoom which allows real-time, synchronous communication for anyone who has access to the Internet or a cell phone.

I believe videoconferencing is critical to creating a vibrant mastermind group. I know that it can be done simply with audio, but most of the cues in human communication are visual, and without that element, you can lose the nuance of conversation.

Zoom, and other videoconferencing tools like it, allow you to see thumbnails of all the participants within the session. You can see their face, their emotions, their expressions. Without these visual indicators, it can be difficult to get into deep conversations about sensitive things.

There are many opportunities to join free online groups (such as Facebook groups), which look like a mastermind on the surface. And for many people who are new to the mastermind model, this would be a good first step. However, there are certain problems inherent in any free online group.

First of all, if the group is free, there is no sense of investment among the members. In free groups, people will come and go at will, which can hurt the consistency in relationship-building that is possible within a mastermind group. Because they are not paying money to be part of it, they do not have the same sense of connection or responsibility, and therefore, the members might churn—or change—on a very regular basis.

Related to that, because the group is free, it means that someone must volunteer to lead. One writer must determine when the group will meet, how often, the time, and that person must organize the activities that occur during the mastermind session. All of those responsibilities are a lot to expect from a volunteer on a week-to-week basis. And because of that, I’ve discovered that online mastermind groups are hard to keep going. Many fade away after a few weeks or a few months together.

You can join Facebook groups and become members of particular sites, but again, if there is not an investment of time and money required to join these groups, the membership fluctuates, and the quality of the experience can be inconsistent.

Another option is to start a mastermind group in real life. I have been a member of several groups over the years, and although they did not call themselves a mastermind group, they tended to function this way. Local coffee shops are a great place to host an informal mastermind group. Book clubs for authors is the most obvious format for a local coffee shop mastermind, but not the only one. I’ve also been part of mastermind groups dedicated to philosophy, politics, or religion. Again, without a monetary investment, it can be difficult to find consistency with these groups. People come and go quite often, and it becomes difficult to become friends with people in the group when the group members change so frequently. But if you are looking for a way to experience a mastermind group without an investment or risk, organizing a local group is a good place to start.

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