Recently I was privileged to be awarded a government contract to deliver peer to peer learning amongst 250 SME owners in Suffolk and Norfolk.
For 16 weeks we met for 2.5hrs every week/fortnight and chewed the fat over current affairs.
My vision for the programme was to create intimate groups of talented business owners, who would build trusted relationships and share their real vulnerabilities.
For some this was their first experience of self-development and lots admitted that if it wasn’t for the pandemic, they would not of allowed themselves the luxury of taking the time out for their own personal growth.
One guy shared with me that it had made him feel both stupid and angry that this support had been offered to him in the past, but he always turned it down due to the day to day demands we all face, but now he realises that he would be so much further forward if he had taken that step back and allowed himself the time to take a good look around and worked on the skills gaps of himself and others within his business.
I believe that Networking can be fake!
This is not a view shared by many, but think about the purpose and predators found at such events.
The business card grabbing opportunists who spam your inbox pushing their products or services with emails suggesting how lovely it was to have met you, when in reality they asked you for a card, they didn’t get to know you, they are not interested in your challenges, and care even less, their motive is to win new business, end of.
We all know that we like to do business with people we like, and people who are similar to us.
We feel uncomfortable referring someone who we don’t really know or trust, yet the traditional style of networking encourages us to pass leads and refer because you are targeted and judged on the number of leads you bring to the party. A personal pet hate of mine.
Peer to Peer learning is so much more than networking, although it is a great example of how people who build a trusted relationship will naturally work together but through choice, not obligation.
Smaller and more intimate groups of likeminded business individuals breed trust, honesty and support much faster due to what is shared, which is commonly someone’s most inner emotions and struggles.
I refer to the peer group as your trusted board of advisors, you non execs, we are there to challenge your status quo, to nudge you out of your comfort zone, to help find answers and solutions to every day challenges, and to calm the fear in owning a business in today’s uncertain world.
With this in mind, I am particular about the individuals that form the peer groups, as I want to ensure that we have a mix of personalities and experience, with a diverse collection of skills, this will give us the best foundation to challenge, question and enrich each other’s lives and business.
My golden rule is no ego’s, we all have an ego for sure, but it’s how we use it that matters to me, a good peer group facilitator will ensure that everyone has equal air time, that the support and guidance offered comes from a non-judgemental place, that everyone feels equal and the imposter within us is tamed.
5 Reasons Peer to Peer Learning is the preferred style.
- It provides a platform which feels safe enough to share real challenges, which non business owners would simply not understand.
- It allows regular time to step back and reflect on your own performance as well as the results you are achieving in your business.
- It reassures you that others experience the same challenges in business.
- We realise that we don’t know what we don’t know, but by surrounding yourself with clever people increases your knowledge and skills.
- Business loneliness is real, even amongst the brave, it’s always good to talk.
Peer to Peer offers long term sustainable business friends who are able to offer an objective view because they are not emotionally attached to your business, but because of the relationship you have formed have an invested interest in your success.