While one could argue that, ideally, there’s nothing quite like sitting face-to-face with your peers in a group setting, connecting with colleagues online not only serves as an attractive alternative, but also offers its own advantages. Imagine for a moment meeting with your peers on a regular basis without any of you ever having to travel beyond your home or office. This option is especially attractive for three types of people:
- Business leaders who live in rural or otherwise remote areas
- Executives with busy and often unpredictable travel schedules
- Younger executives who, as digital natives, are wired to connect with their peers online
There may certainly be other circumstances or situations that favor the online alternative, but you can see that similar to what is taking place in higher education, the online option doesn’t replace the face-to-face model, it simply offers increased access to the peer advisory experience for a broader range of people. If you’re skeptical that you can create real trust and camaraderie online, think again.
In my experience as an online instructor/facilitator, as well as a peer group and learning team member, I continue to be amazed at the richness of the conversations and the level of trust and sharing that takes place in the online environment. What’s more, there’s an added layer of diversity because rather than meeting with peers in your own particular geography, the online platform allows you to connect with people across the globe. In a short time, you’ll find yourself becoming a trusted advisor and even close friend to someone you’ve never met. I wish I could explain how it happens, but it does!
In addition to all the advantages peer groups can offer and why I believe it will be the next big thing, participating in an online peer advisory group will stretch you in ways that transcend geography, allowing you to discover new possibilities for collaboration, team building, and professional and personal growth. If you don’t have a peer group with whom you can meet in your local community, don’t fret. You’ll likely find an online peer group coming soon to a computer near you!