What is a mastermind group?
A Mastermind Group is made up of people who come together on a regular basis to share their goals, workshop new ideas, get perspective and feedback from other smart, equally ambitious peers, and to discover new resources they would not have found on their own.
By getting the perspective and wisdom of the others in the group, a Mastermind Group helps each member to expand their thinking, move beyond their own personal world experience, and move towards success in achieving their own ambitions more quickly and easily than any of us can on our own.
Increasingly, Mastermind Groups are being organized and offered by career community builders, executive coaches, and course instructors as another benefit of a paid membership in their community, membership site, or as part of their online courses.
Which makes the need for understanding the best Mastermind Group platforms all that more urgent.
In this article, we’ll look at the current software people are using for their mastermind group platform as well as a new class of software platforms that make scaling up a series of well-run, well-organized Mastermind Groups faster, easier, and with more of what makes these peer-to-peer support networks so special.
What makes a mastermind group so effective in helping you reach your goals faster?
The benefits of a Mastermind Group come from two simple pieces:
- A committed group of 8-16 people with goals and the desire to reach them.
- A well-defined set of expectations, agreements, and cultural norms that allow the group to fully support each other.
It turns out when you bring a small group of peers together with a few proven ground rules, members can have breakthroughs at a faster rate than any of us can typically find on our own. These ground rules include:
- A commitment to confidentiality. For a Mastermind Group to be successful, people need to trust that what they are sharing stays in the group. This simple (but not always easy) agreement means people can get to the heart of real issues quickly and find solutions faster.
- A commitment to good communication. Good communication means members share their stories, experiences, and ideas, not advice. This may sound counterintuitive to some: Isn’t advice what lets people make better decisions? But it turns out, people learn best when we share stories and experiences we’ve had with similar situations and challenges. Advice doesn’t make that same connection or help people find solutions for themselves as easily as hearing the story of another member.
- A commitment to active participation. Lastly, a Mastermind Group only works when each member is committed to actively participating. This means both sharing their opportunities and challenges openly, but also collaborating closely with other members as they navigate their own situations, situations where hearing the stories and experiences of others leads to breakthroughs.
These foundational agreements are essential to creating the phenomenal results so many of us get from being a part of a Mastermind Group. And translating them into requirements for a Mastermind Group platform becomes clear.
What are the requirements for translating a mastermind group successfully to software?
In order to deliver the benefits of a Mastermind Group to more people and see the best results, there are a few key features needed to organize your Mastermind Group:
Events and calendar integration. By definition, Mastermind Groups only work with regularly scheduled in-person or live video virtual meetings. These meetings typically last 60-90 minutes and enable a member to workshop their current challenges and/or opportunities with other members offering their own related stories and experiences that may be helpful.
Live video meetings. When you choose to do your Mastermind Group virtually, it means that you can pull together a much more diverse and interesting set of members. With now household name services like Zoom to run live video meetings, choosing a Mastermind Group platform with close video integration is critical.
Direct messaging. To keep in touch between meetings, direct messaging is important to connect the members of a Mastermind Group.
From this minimum set of features, there’s also a new breed of Mastermind Group platforms designed to enable a creator, coach, entrepreneur, or online course instructor to offer Mastermind Groups as a benefit of membership. On these new platforms, additional features include:
The option to charge for access. The most successful Mastermind Groups understand that people pay attention to what they pay for. Up until recently, it’s been difficult if not impossible to charge for a subscription or dues to a Mastermind Group in the same place you’d run one. Instead, this was handled with a custom development project on a WordPress website, and it still meant that you’d deliver your Mastermind Group elsewhere. Today, new services are integrating the ability to both charge for a Mastermind Group and deliver it on the same platform. This is a pretty important distinction and one to pay attention to in evaluating the best platforms.
The ability to see and match members to individual Mastermind Groups. With member profiles, messaging, and a scalable groups feature that supports multiple (or even an unlimited) number of groups in the same place, it means that matching members to individual Mastermind Groups based on their location, goals, and backgrounds gets easier and more efficient.
The option to offer exclusive online courses or content. With a shared understanding of a particular methodology, approach, or program, Mastermind Groups can become even more powerful. In this new breed of software, another benefit of Mastermind Groups becomes the practical application of new concepts and ideas with the support, encouragement, and shared learning of other members.
The ability to launch Mastermind Groups and other membership benefits on your own website and mobile apps. Lastly, this new breed of Mastermind Group platforms enable a creator, coach, or course instructor to run their courses, community, content, and Mastermind Groups with paid subscriptions all in one place, all under their brand, and instantly available on every device. This means that Mastermind Groups live in a supported environment beyond the group itself and can be accessed from home or on the go.
Using this criteria as the basis for evaluating the best Mastermind Group platforms available today, our list started broad and we narrowed our winners down to two simple, but important categories.
Best Mastermind Group Platform Today: Mighty Networks
Of the new breed of software platforms built to deliver thriving Mastermind Groups, a Mighty Network stands head and shoulders above the alternatives.
It’s the only platform where you can charge for your Mastermind Groups on the same platform that you run them. In addition, a Mighty Network offers the ability to run online courses, a larger community, events, and an unlimited number of groups all in one place, all under your brand, and instantly available on the web and as mobile apps.
Not only is it easy to organize Mastermind Group meetings within the groups you create within a Mighty Network, but you can also let each Mastermind Group create their own “topics” or categories for posts and activity, organize group chats, and more. It means that not only can your Mastermind Group members stay fully present in regular meetings, but stay engaged and in touch in between meetings as well.
With close integration with Zoom and other video meeting platforms, running live meetings on a Mighty Network is smooth and seamless, even though the platform doesn’t have its own live video option (Update: native live video is available in online courses now!) at the time of writing.
If you’re looking for a flexible, “all-in-one” platform that can deliver beautiful Mastermind Groups and grow with you as you explore other membership features as well, a Mighty Network is your best bet.
Best mastermind group platform for direct messaging: Slack
While some long-standing Mastermind Groups use GroupMe or WhatsApp for direct messaging between meetings, Slack offers the best Mastermind Group Platform when you’ve already got your meetings and events handled, and you want a quick and easy way to keep members in touch between sessions.
Why? Because Slack is not only comfortable to many professionals who don’t want to learn a new platform, but it does a few things better than GroupMe or WhatsApp:
Channels, threaded messaging, and comments. Slack has the ability to organize “channels” (similar to topics on a Mighty Network) and within these channels offer threaded messages and comments. Why do threaded messages and comments matter? Even with eight or 16 people, threaded comments do a better job than one long “single thread” group text of organizing conversations and building deeper relationships.
Video calls. On Slack, you can organize live video calls among multiple members. While the quality and reliability isn’t as strong as Zoom, it’s offered as a built in feature on their paid plans and can be used for meetings.
Familiarity. Compared to GroupMe or WhatsApp, don’t underestimate the comfort professionals have with using Slack. While it’s features are limited in many respects (certainly compared to a Mighty Network), if you just need to keep members in touch between meetings and don’t plan on scaling the number of Mastermind Groups you’re going to run, it’s the best of your messaging options.
Even with this said though, there are a few limitations of Slack to keep in mind as you choose the right Mastermind Group software for you:
No events calendar. You’re going to need to find another way to manage your meetings because there’s not an events feature or calendar within Slack.
No member profiles, matching, or engagement features. Slack assumes members already know each other and are there to get work done. This means your Mastermind Group doesn’t live within a larger community to pull in new members, doesn’t offer engagement features like polls, questions, and more, nor does it offer a way to scale the impact of your Mastermind Group when you’re ready to move beyond messaging.
No way to charge. You can’t charge for membership into Slack without rigging up a pretty clunky set of websites, payment gateways, and integration points.
No content, articles, or online courses. Slack doesn’t do content. It’s a messaging platform. This means that your Mastermind Group will be limited to direct messaging.
No branding. While you and your members can use Slack’s great mobile app, you can’t use your own branding, look and feel, web domain, or upgrade to offer your own native mobile apps on iOS or Android like you can on a Mighty Network.
Best mastermind group platform when you can’t use a Mighty Network: Facebook Group
Facebook Groups is a popular destination for groups of people with common interests, and it’s often the first Mastermind Group platform that people use when trying to establish a Mastermind Group.
Sadly, this also means that some Mastermind Groups never fully realize the same potential they’ll have when they choose a Mighty Network or Slack.
Why? Because the secret to the best Mastermind Groups is confidentiality and open sharing. The truth is that people are more hesitant to share within a Facebook group than they are on a Mighty Network or a Slack team, even when those Facebook groups are private or secret.
Pros of using Facebook Groups as a Mastermind Group platform
Your Mastermind Group members already have a Facebook account. While they may not be sharing as openly on Facebook as they would on a different platform, your Mastermind Group members will have the easiest time joining a Facebook group. This is a blessing and a curse, especially if you value creating an environment for members to share.
You can organize events directly in your group. Within a Facebook group, you can organize your meetings directly in your group. While there’s video with Facebook live, there’s no ability to bring all of your members together quite yet in the same way you can on Zoom or Google Meet. This may be changing soon, but today it’s a limitation.
Cons of using Facebook Groups as a Mastermind Group platform
You can’t charge for membership. With Facebook Groups, there’s no way to create subgroups within a group, and there’s no way to charge for access to either.
You’ve got the noise and clutter of competing interests. Facebook is a platform expressly designed for distraction. It doesn’t care what grabs any of our attention, as long as we stay engaged. Where the point and purpose of a Mastermind Group is to enable focus and progress towards goals, a Facebook group actually makes this harder, not easier by being as ubiquitous as it is. Plus, it limits what people are willing to share.
No way to put it under your own brand. Sure, you can add the logo for your Mastermind Group, but you can’t use your own web domain, add more branding, or ever upgrade to offering your Mastermind Group on your own native mobile apps.
The overall winner for best Mastermind Group Platform: Mighty Networks
When looking at the criteria for creating a thriving Mastermind Group, it’s hard to see how Mighty Networks, the best of the new breed of software platforms designed to deliver Mastermind Groups isn’t the winner compared to Slack, Facebook Groups, or other platforms built for a broader, more generic purpose of direct messaging or passive interests.
As a result, we recommend a Mighty Network for its breadth of features and flexibility offered all in one place, under your brand, with instant availability on every platform.