As a business owner or manager, you’ve already learned that everyone seems to have an opinion of the way you are doing things. Anyone can give you advice, but peers are different. Peers share your perspective, they’ve walked a mile in your shoes, they’ve been on the front lines with you. Friends, families and mentors are all awesome and can provide you with valuable guidance, but they don’t know your state of mind. You need to go to your peers for that. And that’s why networking with peers is important.
How do you identify who your peers are?
A peer is someone who is traveling a similar path in life – someone who may be close in age, accomplishment, and background. Peers may not share your core values but they understand the language you speak and the context that it’s used in. They also understand ‘where you’re coming from’ in the ideas, challenges and goals that you have. Your most helpful peers explore an experience with you and help you formulate insights that are useful to you.
And this, friends, is why networking with peers is incredibly valuable to your growth and development in your industry, position or situation and why you should do what you can to make the conversations you have with your peers fruitful.
“The opportunity to interact with other Jackrabbit users and organizations provided so much information that identified a number of different areas within my own organization that could be improved.”
Gerald Newton, British Academy of Performing Arts
So whether you’re an owner seeking mindshare on how to handle sticky financial challenges networking with other owners is a first step in figuring out your solution.
Whether you’re an owner seeking mindshare on what software package to use, networking with others in your industry will help you determine option
And whether you’re an owner trying to figure out if it’s time to sell, discussing your thoughts with owners will help you settle into a decision-making process.
“I have been really thrilled with the best practices that I’ve learned not only from the people speaking with us from Jackrabbit but from the networking and conversations with other Jackrabbit users.”
Leigh Ann Cannady, Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts
These tips will make your peer conversations fruitful.
- Catch up – really.
If you don’t get as much time with these peers as you’d like, connecting should include catching up. You’re going to have a much better conversation on the topics on your mind if you bring each other up to speed. Sometimes catching up provides great insights that will drive the direction of the remainder of the discussion and reveal great details that will help you.
- Share lots of details.
When you do get down to business, so to speak, and discuss your burning issue, be sure to fully describe what’s going on. Without detail, the feedback you get may miss the point. You don’t want to waste the valuable time of your peers or your valuable time.
- Be open-minded.
Don’t go into a peer conversation expecting specific answers. You’ve already closed your mind to potential great ideas if you do this. These discussions are usually about questions that you really don’t know how to ask. It might be good to ask your peer for a ‘brain dump’ – and then you can sift through their thoughts and ask questions the information inspires. In other words, let the conversation go where it wants – not somewhere that is directed by you and your expectations.
- Don’t take the conversations as directives.
This is a conversation about options and ideas, not advice on how to run your business. The latter attaches responsibility and will definitely affect the creativity of the conversation. Insights are simply thoughts and should be considered as that and nothing else. No one needs that kind of peer pressure! When peers feel they’ve helped you formulate ideas that will impact your success, they can happily help you celebrate the journey.
Jackrabbit provides a platform for peer conversations in a couple of ways:
Through our Facebook Software Users Group – Jackrabbit expert moderated but driven by user conversation, this group encourages users to collaborate with each other to find solutions to questions.
Through our User Conferences – the BOOST East and BOOST West conferences held each year provide users with access to Jackrabbit experts, partners and to each other. Hours and hours of learning together, sharing experiences and creating ideas draws users together to develop lasting relationships that help everyone improve.
originally published Dec. 14, 2014, written by Kevin Daum.