(This post originally appeared on Philly.com)
Have you ever considered joining a peer executive group? It’s tempting.
These small groups are normally comprised of local CEOs, business owners and leaders, who meet regularly to discuss their professional and personal challenges in a confidential and informal setting. Some of these groups are formed organically. But many others are initiated through national groups such as Vistage International, Entrepreneur’s Organization, YPO and Peer Executive Groups.
Popular? You could say that. Vistage alone boasts more than 22,000 members in 20 countries, and the Entrepreneur’s Organization says it has a global network of more than 14,000 members across 193 chapters worldwide.
The benefits of belonging to an executive group can be significant.
“For me, it’s like an outside advisory board that has no personal agenda, other than to help the other members,” says David Keiser, an owner and vice president at Tioga Pipe, a family-owned distributor in Philadelphia. “My group members are smart people who listen, get to know you and your business, and that’s a tremendous thing.” Keiser has belonged to his executive group for more than 21 years.
Like many, Keiser’s group meets 11 to 12 times a year and is made up mostly of the owners of established manufacturers, distributors and service providers in the area, none who compete with him. The best groups give members the opportunity to meet and learn from fellow business owners in an informal setting that is usually moderated by an experienced facilitator, often assigned by the national organization. The meetings are usually conducted in fellow members’ offices, homes or neutral locations such as hotel conference rooms.