Have you ever been to a board of directors meeting? Been a member of a board? Served in some capacity on a board? Maybe you were bored at some other meeting? (That’s got to count for something.)

I recently attended a board meeting for a client to speak about a number of initiatives happening within the organization. Ironically, the attendees were bored during this meeting (not when I was speaking of course) as evidenced by the clicking on Blackberries, tapping on iPhones and doodling on notepads. But all of these folks are big time executives for Fortune 500 companies, so this kind of response is to be expected. As I recall, the crumb cake was excellent!

Boards often meet quarterly and are assembled for a number of reasons. They might meet to discuss an organization’s mission and purpose, to select an executive, to support an executive and review his or her performance, to ensure effective organizational planning, to help provide adequate resources, to manage resources effectively, to monitor the organization’s programs and services, to enhance the organization’s public image, to set sales goals or even to discuss its own performance. Bored yet?

The mastermind group

Wouldn’t it be great to have your very own board of directors (or “board of action”) to help you with your objectives? The good news is, you can — even if you’re a financial advisor, run a small business or simply sell stuff for a living.

I call this smaller board of directors a “mastermind group.” It’s a carefully assembled board of directors that meets on a regular basis to discuss the major successes and concerns happening within your business or practice. (Your managers may be a part of a group like this, but might call it a study group.) Meeting with a group like this can be great fun — except when it’s not. Why? Well, sometimes members of the group will say things you may not want to hear. They might call you on the stand to talk about bad sales decisions, marketing decisions, financial decisions, purchasing decisions or decisions for living. The good news is it should all be aimed at helping you make better decisions.

So, what are the other benefits of a mastermind group? Most important, having counsel like this gives you the opportunity to perform at a higher level because like-minded people help you make better business decisions while holding you accountable. Wouldn’t it be great to have a small group of people you respect (perhaps other financial advisors) that can be used as a sounding board? You could get more insight on setting more appointments, generating more referrals, building better relationships and closing more business. And that’s just a starter list!

I’ve started numerous mastermind groups over the years — some have made it and some have failed. I’ve learned a lot during this process, and would like to share this with you. We’ll cover the first six tips here and the remaining tips later this month — so stay tuned.

Tip No. 1: Like each other first

Don’t go into this thinking that good individuals in a room will become a good team. It doesn’t usually work that way. Make sure you have a small group of individuals that are already like-minded and have some connection with one another. The honeymoon period will be much shorter.

Tip No. 2: Have the right purpose in mind

The focus of a mastermind group is to help attendees run a better business. It’s not about asking the group for more business. That may happen as a result of developing trust with one another, but it takes time and it shouldn’t be the expectation. Remember, business happens at the speed of trust. (Trust me.)

Tip No. 3: Have non-competing businesses

If there are going to be eight members of the group, make sure they all do different things. It’s an added bonus if most of the businesses serve similar markets.

Tip No. 4: Participate

The group won’t work if nobody participates. In fact, most groups won’t work with just observers. I’ve been part of groups where a few members just keep to themselves. If that’s the case, it’s hard to give and even harder to get.

Tip No. 5: Keep the numbers low

Unless you operate a mastermind organization designed to make money as a profit center, the numbers should remain low. Remember, it’s not about growing the group but growing the level of the group. Choose eight members, tops.

Tip No. 6: As a rule, have rules in place

If there aren’t set rules in place regarding attendance, lateness, agenda, format, logistics, frequency of meetings, membership and various other aspects, the meeting won’t work or at least won’t work well. The rules should be established and agreed upon by the whole group during the forming stage.

Michael Goldberg is a speaker, consultant, author and the founder of Building Blocks Consulting. His book, “Knock-Out Networking! More Prospects, More Referrals, More Business!” is available now. For more information or to subscribe to Michael’s free blog, The Building Blocks to Success, please visit www.TheBuildingBlockstoSuccess.com or www.BuildingBlocksConsulting.com.