Peer groups are a powerful tool. Why? So you read this blog, The East Texas Moms Blog, and it’s awesome. These ladies are rich with joy and passion in their lives and they share it online in hopes of including women across the East Texas area in this tribe centered around motherhood. Something you maybe don’t realize is that we all connect in a private Facebook group where we share story ideas, jokes, blogging tips, encouragement, and writing assignments. It’s a great peer group that provides support, encouragement and stimulates engagement for each writer.
Peer groups really are my jam.
Peer groups offer a place to commiserate with like minded people, provide an avenue for professional networking and idea sharing, and allow members to foster meaningful connections.
Some examples of Peer Groups and how they can help you thrive:
I love my book club. It’s private. It’s selective. It has no rules. We don’t have to clean our house to host book club. No one has to bring a dish or a hostess gift. We don’t have to wear make up. If we want to stop by McDonald’s and grab ourselves a burger and fries to eat on our friends couch while we chat about the book we maybe didn’t really read, no judgement. This is a group that I know will not judge me harshly, and because of that comfort level, we can explore discussions that I wouldn’t normally step into with most people, like politics, mental health, education reform, and family drama. There are also books and people that love books and, therefore, people that will understand my dorky literary jokes.
When I read Konmari: The Art of Tidying Up, I was absolutely hooked. I found online Facebook groups for people going through the cleaning, tidying, and organizing process specifically outlined in the books. We shared posts and photos of our accomplishments and frustrations. It was motivating to check into the group and see that other people were also organizing their kitchen junk drawer on a Friday night.
This type of group can also be helpful if you or a member of your family has specific health issues. There are niche groups for health related issues where you can share experiences, ask for advice, vent and rejoice in healing.
Professional Peer Groups
This might be my favorite type of peer group at the moment. I have three professional groups that I really love right now:
Online Niche Groups
I learn so much from people that “geek out” on the same things that I often “geek out” on – like nonprofit related issues, management styles, public speaking, literature, data evaluation, surveys – you get the picture. If I posted about public speaking on my regular social media outlets or brought up marketing trends at book club lunch, I’d get crickets. Except maybe on Linkedin. I
might be am cool on Linkedin. It is nice to share a funny story about fundraising without having to provide several paragraphs to first explain why the story is funny.
Professional Development Programs
The professional development group is the only option I’ve listed that isn’t free. I am currently seeking a certification that will take four years to complete. During that four years, I will work with the same group of people from across the nation. We connect on Facebook and once a year in person for training. I have been able to discuss a variety of issues and share professional resources, like a social media policy and fundraising booklets. I also felt this same kind of connection to the group of people that I earned my MBA with in 2007. These continuing education bonds are very specific and useful throughout your career.
Community Self Advocacy Groups
The most recent peer group that I am in love with is a local self advocacy group that I initiated. It is a free public speaking development group. I’ve found that by opening up a dialogue about public speaking, I’ve made myself more comfortable with speaking through experience. I’ve also found a support network of people that will give me feedback and are genuinely interested in my success.