By Kathy Jentz
A few years ago, C.L. Fornari introduced the power circle concept at the annual Gardencomm meeting and posted sign-up sheets on various topics from publishing your first book to hosting a radio show. Many of these groups were short-lived or had little follow-through, but several came together and met regularly. A few are even still active now.
I find these power circle groups to be one of the best member benefits of being in Gardencomm and can attest that being in them has brought me networking connections, learning experiences, and increased income.
What is a “power circle,” you might ask? Basically, it is a blend of a mastermind group and an accountability circle. A set of colleagues can explore topics and share tips, wisdom, and research—and not everyone has to do it individually on their own! You have a trusted group you can bounce ideas off of and who can help you amplify your efforts.
For the past few years, I have been helming a power circle for a small group of garden bloggers — all members of the Garden Communicators International (Garden Writers Association). We have monthly phone calls on various topics ranging from marketing tips to affiliate marketing to content ideas. In between meetings we communicate via a Google group and store documents on a shared Google drive folder. The group is has recently refocused and expanded both our topic focus and membership.
The members of the power circle are the ones who shape it and decide how often it will meet, how it will meet, the discussion topics, size of the circle, etc. I recently joined a power circle on using Zoom and that group meets bi-weekly and there is a power circle on podcasting that also meets twice a month. Some topics have more urgency.
I’m also in another power circle for garden speakers. We have monthly meetings via Zoom on various topics ranging from one-sheet critiques to tax tips. We each take a turn being that month’s topic facilitator and none of us is expected to be the “expert” on that topic, but to do a bit of research and lead the conversation on it.
One of the power circle members, Carol Michel, writes, “One thing I think makes this group stand out from the other Power Circles I was in is the use of Zoom. Seeing everyone and not just hearing people on the phone I think improves our ability to share. It also helps that everyone takes a topic to lead. Even if you don’t know much about the topic, being willing to go out and research it is helpful. And we all know the teacher learns more than the student. Plus, the Google Group is helpful for storing documents, more so than sharing a Google Doc.”
If you want to start up a power circle on any topic, my recommendation is to post that desire on the Gardencomm Facebook group page and on the Gardencomm website’s Communities Portal forum. You could also form a group by directly contacting several Gardencomm members and inviting them to join.
Your next step is to set up a Google group or other way of keeping in contact and posting meeting notices. Then, you would schedule your first meeting. At that, you can brainstorm future meeting topics and ask for volunteers to lead each of those discussions.
I find it easiest to have one person who is the “facilitator” or leader of the group who keeps track of inviting folks to shared Google group, posting the group’s meeting schedule, sending out meeting reminders, and following up after meetings, if needed. This is a bit like being the group’s “mom” and can get a little tiresome being the chief nagger, but without this key position a power circle can easily fall off people’s radar and cease to exist.
About the Author:
Kathy Jentz is editor of Washington Gardener Magazine and a long-time DC-area gardening enthusiast. To book her for a garden talk, find her at: http://greatgardenspeakers.com/listing/kathy-jentz-4c818b5cdacc5.html.
She also edits the IWGS Water Garden Journal and is a columnist and guest blogger for several other publications. Her latest foray is as the social media voice for horticultural brands. She can be reached at KathyJentz@gmail.com.