February 16, 2020 Last updated March 11th, 2020 196 Reads share

7 Ways to Build a Successful Peer Learning Group for Entrepreneurs

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

One of the most helpful habits a lot of successful entrepreneurs had to cultivate very early was the ability to say “I don’t know, I don’t understand, and I need help.”

Peer learning offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn from each other. No matter what stage your business is in, there is always something you can learn from fellow business leaders. And to a huge extent, learning from peers will inspire you to be more accountable.

As your business grows, things start to get more complicated. During this process, many entrepreneurs experience confusion and begin to feel stuck. They don’t know the next steps to take.

Some entrepreneurs have gotten through this phase by getting a mentor. Others joined or created effective online or offline peer learning programs.

If your business is in this critical phase and you’re starting to feel stuck, this may be the right time to start a peer learning program. Here are 7 pointers to help you get started.

1. Find Professionals With Similar Goals and Targets

When creating your peer learning group, ensure that you bring together people with similar goals, roles or issues. The point of the program should be to share challenges and get credible solutions from professionals like yourself.

You can create a group of fellow entrepreneurs who have a similar client base, serve the same community, have a similar experience level or create similar solutions as your organization. There should always be something that connects every member of a learning group.

2. Build Trust

Every good leader knows how important it is to build trust with their teams. It’s also essential to provide an atmosphere of trust and security with the members of your peer learning group.

Every member should feel comfortable enough to ask the group for advice on the issues they have. Creating opportunities for learning and bonding is essential. The point is to move from strangers to teammates and eventually become friends who help each other grow and succeed.

3. Agree on How and When to Meet

Deciding where and how often your team meets is very important. There are lots of peer learning groups that hold monthly meetings online but meet physically at least once a year. Some have only physical meetings a few times in a year. Where and when your peer learning group meets depends on its members.

4. Choose a Facilitator

Have an experienced facilitator who’ll be in charge of creating bonding opportunities for members, capturing key ideas and resources for discussions, listening for themes, maximizing time, and creating opportunities for participants to bond.

Your peer learning group facilitator can be an internal leader or an external consultant.

Having a Facilitator creates an avenue for participants to concentrate on sharing and learning, knowing that one person is keeping the conversation on track and moving forward.

5. Normalize Differences

Participants of your peer learning group will not always have to see eye to eye. This occurrence doesn’t have to be a problem. The facilitator should always normalize this experience by highlighting the fact that diverse perspectives can be very helpful.

Ensure that no one strays from the main topic of discussion and that all participants are focused on achieving a common goal.

You can help your group members see things from each other’s perspectives by asking them to apply the other person’s ideas into their work; to see how this idea might also be beneficial.

6. Summarize and Keep a Record of Discussions

Your peer learning group facilitator should always keep a record of ideas, strategies, tools, and resources shared by members; for those who were not present during meetings, new members, and for future reference.

The facilitator can handle this task or choose someone else to handle it. 

Things that should be included in your record may include:

  • Background or context for the discussion topic. This should highlight why the matter was discussed and how it is relevant to the members of your peer learning group. 
  • Clear documentation of the ideas, challenges, strategies, and tools shared. 
  • Source material, reference documents, templates, examples, and links to online videos, courses or databases.

7. Improve the User Experience

No matter how well you implement the above six steps, there will always be room for improvement. And, good user experience is crucial in making your peer learning group productive.

To improve your peer learning group, you can start by collecting information from every participant by asking them questions like what they valued most about the discussions and how the peer learning program has changed or improved their lives or organizations. 

It is also important to take note of:

  • Attendance trends.
  • Participant turnover.
  • Participant satisfaction.
  • Progress on teams’ goals or objectives.

With this information, you should be ready to start a successful and productive peer learning group.

business learning group – DepositPhotos

Joseph Chukwube

Joseph Chukwube

Digital Marketer and PR Specialist, Joseph Chukwube is the Founder of Digitage, a digital marketing agency for Startups, Growth Companies and SMEs. He discusses Cybersecurity, E-commerce and Lifestyle and he's a published writer on Search Engine Watch, Infosecurity Magazine, The HuffingtonPost and more. To say hey or discuss a project, proposal or idea, reach him via joseph@digitage.net

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