Building relationships with others in your industry can deliver big benefits: You’ll get tips for solving problems, see issues from a fresh perspective and gain insights on trends and benchmarks. You’ll learn from others’ successes and failures and capitalize on the experience of those who have already invested in new technologies. A good peer group can become a circle of advisers you count on for guidance and support. But before you join, take some time to do a little research. Consider these questions:
- Which companies are in the group? Your goal is to deal with colleagues, not competitors.
- What position do members hold? If you’re an equipment manager, join an equipment managers’ group. If you’re an owner or CEO, connect with people at that level.
- How large is the group? We recommend no more than 20.
- How do they manage confidentiality? It’s important to know.
- What are the qualifications for joining? Ask about minimum standards for business size, years of experience and other factors.
- Do members ever meet face-to-face? Personal meetings can be especially valuable.
- Is there a secure way to communicate online? Make sure there’s a web platform for virtual meetings and ongoing discussions.
- What’s the fee structure? Understand the value proposition.
- Are there special requirements? Some groups ask members to complete surveys, host meetings or perform other duties. Be sure you know what you’re signing up for.