Having a peer network is a great idea that I encourage everyone to steal.
In my transition from being a project manager to being a business execution specialist, I networked with many in the personal and business coaching profession. That’s how I found my current job, and probably how I’ll find my next one. I still keep in touch and get together with my project management circle, and now I have a “coaching” circle as well.
Besides providing invaluable networking opportunities, a peer group also helps you get better at what you do. It’s a sounding board, a sympathetic ear, help you make decision, point you to education resources, and even give advice if that’s what you’re looking for.
It can also be as formal or informal as you like. My project management group is a loose confederation of like-minded peers who have all worked together. It started as a few of us going for beer on a Friday afternoon. We still like to get together for a beer or two once or twice a year to catch up on friendships and industry gossip. Anybody is welcome to join us.
My coaching circle is by invitation only, and meets once a quarter in a borrowed boardroom. It has an agenda, and presentations, and minutes. It’s really more of a professional self-development group.
The point is this: Find a group of industry peers that you can sit down and speak frankly and openly with outside of work. Your peer group doesn’t have to be strictly about “coaching”. You’ll find that many of your friends, peers, and associates are facing the same challenges as you. You won’t be able to solve all the worlds’ problems over a beer, but sometimes knowing you’re not alone is really what you need.