In my book, SPARK: 5 Essentials to Ignite the Greatness Within, I detail in Chapter 3 about the mandatory presence of Advocates. Those of us seasoned in life know that not all Advocates are created equal. One example in my life was the joining and parting of ways with various peer groups whose mission was to provide collective knowledge, connections, and opportunities. What went wrong? Why didn’t we stick together?
I had several close friends who were uber-successful and attributed much of their rise and time at the top to their peer group. But my experience was that the peer groups I had paid to be a part of had not provided me with the value that I saw worth the investment of my time or money. Was it them? Was it me? Was it a little of both? Did I not play well with others? Was I a sucker unable to discern the real deal?
This blog is for those of us who have sought out these groups yet failed to form a quality professional partnership. We have been taken by the transactors and not blessed by the transformers. Yet we instinctively know that great people beget great people, and we need to be in groups of individuals who have gone where we want to go. Like in love, we may get burned or have our hearts broken, yet we keep trying to find that one particular person who brings out the best version of us til death do us part. Too often, a "reach" feels more like a request for money in exchange for a good or service. How many times do we get the automatic sales pitch on LinkedIn or Facebook after connecting with someone! That’s not cross-pollinating; that self-promotion.
So, imagine my surprise when someone who I revered shared one of "those groups" with me as we were catching up. My friend disclosed he had not been a member for long but was hopeful and impressed with the interactions he had with them thus far. Maybe I was open to joining because I had been off the peer group dating sites for so long, but I felt the time was ripe for me to reengage. At the very least, I would be there to support my friend.
The first Zoom call I got invited was Friday at 5 pm, and it lasted until 7 pm. And guess what, it was Tremendous!! I received a gracious welcome, a firehose of learning, and and both were received by an open mind. The members of this group, The C-Suite Network, used a term repeatedly, Reciprocity, and it stuck with me. I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of information and everything they have going on, but that is standard anytime you begin a new "anything."
The C-Suite members also did something unusual; they asked each new member to introduce themselves, tell what they are passionate about, what they would like help with, and what gift they had for the group. After three weeks of meeting and getting more drawn in each time, I finally figured out why this particular peer group ignited me where the others hadn't.
Reciprocity. What a brilliant concept. Reciprocity means we are exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. It is the opposite of trading or transacting. Rather than trying to get me to reach into my wallet to “buy” something they were selling or hire them, the group got me to “buy-in" to them. Reciprocity means that everyone in this group is all in and not just invested in themselves, but invested in each other. And maybe the other groups I was in previously were like that, and I missed it, but this group demonstrated it right then and right there.
When I shared that my book was launching that week, guess what they all did? They shared it, bought it, and reviewed it. And when they shared their books, guess what I did? I got right online and downloaded or purchased a physical copy and wrote a five-star review. Do it? Did it. Right then. And during the call, I put my contact information in the chat room and watched as thirty-some invites came in from LinkedIn. And they all had Calendly invites at the bottom asking me to connect and collaborate. Reciprocity.
I shared my Leaders on Leadership podcast and extended the offer to have them as guests on my show—to include a retired 2 Star Admiral! Those with podcasts also invited me to be a guest on theirs! One gentleman gave me a complimentary and professionally branded background for my Zoom room with a logo and book cover. I had another call with a lady who gave me complimentary insights into my LinkedIn profile. I had another member connect me with a Ph.D. in neuroscience who is looking for a publisher! Reciprocity at its finest.
We should be doing everything we can to advocate for one another. The world crumbles in when there are too many takers; too many self-seekers that over promise and under deliver. This group began authentic giving the moment we connected. That's what dedicated advocates do. They don't try and sell you on anything; they are just there for you.
I have countless tremendous advocates in my life. Those of you reading this blog are personally and professionally, not only dear to me but also integral to my success. But I was delighted to finally find a peer group in The C-Suite Network that could help me grow to the next level, especially when I had been so jaded or closed-minded from past experiences. Peer groups are essential, especially for entrepreneurs where the cohorts are often few and far between. We don't have big teams and appointed experts to use as sounding boards.
Reciprocity. Do it or drain yourself dry. To give is genuinely better than to receive. Still, if you don't get dedicated advocates to fill your till, you'll soon be out of business. If you’re a giver, other givers are your lifeblood. Think Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept in his best-seller, Good to Great. We all have an economic engine, and it takes resources to run. We can't do it without the right people, processes, or products. Look for connections who can help you build your desired network, but always focus on reciprocating tremendous quality and value.
If you want to know more about this group, please reach out to me. I would love to have you as my guest! There is a world of difference between getting someone to buy and getting someone to buy-in. I am so glad I finally figured it out!
Edit: Based on general interest on the group I have been in, I would love to share a personal invitation for you to check out The C-Suite Network Celebrations as my guest, which is what I first attended on a Friday night. If you are an Executive looking for a group that will truly take you to the next level, check out what Executive Membership could do for you!
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