Today’s blog post is brought to you by Tracie Orisko, President, Managed Sales Pros.

It’s day two here at the Ingram Micro Trust X Alliance meetings!

The tagline on the Trust X Alliance marketing declares their peer group as “Individually Strong,” and “Collectively Extraordinary”.

Events like Trust X are a real joy to attend, because they aren’t solely focused on education.   They’re also heavily focused on networking and collaboration.  Trust X Alliance offers their members great opportunities.  Members enjoy exclusive offers, services, and access to key manufacturer and reseller contacts.

There are many reasons to join a peer group that don’t make it in to the advertising brochures.  Yes, they allow you to share best practices and learn from other companies that understand your business.  Discounts are great.  Support is helpful.  There is a reason that isn’t given the weight it should be:  your ability to give back to your community will provide you with tremendous satisfcation.

People join peer groups to get help, not to offer it.   I admit when I joined mine, I went with the attitude that the people I was going to meet were going to help me solve all my business problems.  They had information and experience, and I wanted it.  I’m sure many other business owners feel the same way.  There’s a lot of time and money invested in peer group attendance, and you need to know that you’re going to get ROI on your participation.

What I learned was that you do others a tremendous service when you share your time and experience with them.  Eventually you realize you show up at your peer group to add value, not take.

Apply this to your entire business and personal life, and you’ll see a huge difference in how you view the world.  Boring party? Are you trying to make it into the best party you’ve ever been to?  No?  Then you’re the problem.  Bring the party energy, don’t wait around hoping it gets better by itself.  If your role is that of “giver” and not “taker”, your partners notice and support you.  When your attitude switches from “How do I get money from my vendors” to “How do I help my vendors make money” your relationship with your vendor change.  (When’s the last time you bought your vendor a drink, huh?)

When you come to your peer group to share how you solved a really complex problem with a software program all of your group members use, you save dozens of people dozens of hours.  Want to get the most out of your peer group participation?  Get as honest as you can, as quickly as you can.  Participate.  Be authentic.  And most importantly, be open with your successes and invested in the success of your peers.  Everyone’s business improves when everyone is focused on improving their businesses.

Being an entrepreneur is exciting.  It’s an adventure filled with extreme highs and extraordinary disappointments.  It’s also very isolating.  One of the greatest joys of a peer group is the opportunity to share honestly about what’s going on in your life and your business – with other people who aren’t judging, and who have very likely experienced the exact thing.  Lost a huge account?  To your employees you have to remain positive and encouraging.  With your peers you can share the real financial impact of that loss, and share that you’re scared of what might happen next.

To be surrounded by a group of people who will help you identify and then help you solve the problem is truly an experience I wish for every business owner.   And I hope you’ll get to experience the extreme satisfaction and pride that comes from watching your peers succeed after they’ve taken your advice.  It’s not something you want to miss.  Collectively we are extraordinary.