How to power your network through purpose
Updated: Jul 20, 2021
What is the purpose of my network? This is the number one question I think everyone who runs a network or professional group should ask themselves.
We need a reason to show up
Whether it is a mastermind group, professional guild, philanthropic association or client network, participants need to know their contribution has meaning and that the group is guided by a purpose.
But "hey - of course there's a purpose to our group" most people would argue in self-defence. Sure, but too often it is implied, vague or uncompelling leaving each participant to read into it what he or she would like it to be. It is an afterthought or in the case of long-running networks something that has taken a backseat over the years.
I have asked a lot of smart people this question and often answers revolve around value. What do participants get out of being part of the group? Excellent question - but only half the story. Of course, being part of a group should be valuable to the participants and worth their time, but the most powerful and motivating networks have a purpose that goes beyond meeting up and helping each other.
Five tips for successful purpose-driven groups
Have a purpose that extends beyond the circle of participants - since you have so much brain power and resources in the room, you might as well use it to make a difference. How would you like to influence your industry? What can you do together to address the most important challenges experienced by your participants - and their peers? What ought to change?
Make it official - it can sound stiff or formal, but a purpose should be written down and agreed upon. That way it carries weight, it is known and hopefully shared by everyone, and clear to everyone you onboard into the group. A formal purpose will create a stronger sense of obligation and commitment – to the purpose, but also to your network.
Plan ahead - a purpose not only provides meaning and motivation to participants, but it can also guide the group's agenda. How will each activity, each keynote speaker, each meeting contribute to the overall purpose of the group? Not every activity will, and that is fine. All networks need social glue to build trust. But asking the question stringently will provide structure and direction.
Involve members – a strong purpose should not be a top-down decision. As a network owner and leader, you have an important responsibility to facilitate and propel the discussion forward. But you should most certainly involve everybody in both in deciding and accomplishing the goals you plan for.
Evaluate your results – having a clear purpose and a plan with specific goals also allows you to determine success. Make it an integral part of your yearly process to evaluate and ask: How have we been successful? Not only will it keep you on your toes, it will also be motivating to see the progress achieved.
Everybody likes to be part of a success – make sure your network offers that to its participants.