What Are SVN Peer Circles?
SVN Peer Circles are small groups of 6-10 SVN members who meet each month to share and learn from each other, and ultimately become a group of trusted advisors. Group members discuss how to tackle challenges, navigate change, and grow personally and professionally. Monthly meetings and an annual retreat take place in a confidential environment and use a structure that fosters honesty and trust, enabling members to harness the wisdom of peers to support each other. Most groups are in-person, but there are some that meet virtually.
SVN Peer Circles are designed to align with the unique needs of SVN members, drawing on shared core values. A Peer Circle can continue for years. Peer Circle success is rooted in the learning, support, and recharge that members offer each other as they build a small community of trust and care. Because meetings are structured to facilitate sharing at both personal and professional levels, participation can help leaders transform their enterprises and their lives.
Contact Donna Daniels, Deputy Director for SVN to sign up.
Available only to SVN members. Charges apply except at Leadership Member level and above.
Cost: $500 for Members during the first year. Free of charge after the first year of Peer Circle attendance.
Peer Circles Perspectives from SVN Members
Manish Gupta, Founder at Handmade Expressions
"Peer Circles are an excellent forum to interact and take advice from other entrepreneurs and leaders who are facing or have faced an issue. It is one of the most trusted groups of people. This group is a blessing in the journey of being an entrepreneur."
Elizabeth Crook, President at Orchard Advisors
"My circle creates an opportunity to focus on a specific issue in my organization. The preparation alone for the presentation is valuable since it encourages me to boil it all down to the essential question. I get to be heard, feelings and all. Peer Circle groups also allow members to receive validation on any concerns and a fresh perspectives on any issues. I benefit from the rich and varied experiences of my circle members."
Lara Pearson, Attorney at Brand Geek/ Exemplar
"The highly structured and confidential setting of our Virtual Peer Circle comforts me in the knowledge that I will be heard and can share openly about challenges I face without any negative repercussions."
Flip Brown, Founder at Business Culture Consultants
"Of all the benefits I have received since becoming a Social Venture Network member, none are more valuable or profound than being a member of a Peer Circle. I’ll list some of the specific reasons why:
- Great care, thought, and work has been put into the structure and methodology, which creates a wonderful balance of structure and spontaneity for the group
- The full-day Peer Circle training and orientation is first-class (and this comes from someone who does this kind of work for a living!)
- The mix of SVN members in our Circle provides a diverse and stimulating range of possibilities
- As a group, we have built a container of deep trust, enabling us to be personally and professionally vulnerable with great safety
- Even though we are a “virtual” circle (different geographic locations), having spent the first full day together created the necessary familiarity with each other, and the monthly phone calls have not been a detriment (in part because of the clear format and expectations)
- Each of us has brought something meaty to the group, and have experienced active listening, challenging but helpful questions, new perspectives, offers of assistance, and compassionate reflections
- We are committed to being light-hearted and to having fun!
- For me the individuals in my Peer Circle are now in the category of being life-long connections. How often do you meet folks who move easily into that category?
In terms of the value to my business, I gain the perspectives that otherwise would not be readily available to me – across industries, age groups, and across the continent. Since there are no hidden or floating agendas of money, ego, or status, my peers and I are free to concentrate on what the overarching values and principles in a given situation. I was able to use the group to discuss my relationship to money, financial management, and pricing strategies for my business with the group – not an easy topic for casual conversations with folks you don’t know!"
Elisa Miller-Out, CEO of Singlebrook Technology
"Sometimes it can be lonely being an entrepreneur. When speaking with potential customers, employees or investors, it’s hard to let your guard down. You feel as if you always need to appear to have everything under control, even when you’re struggling with the many challenges, opportunities and decisions that face you each day as you manage your growing enterprise. Having a group of peers that you can speak with honestly and openly and who can give you feedback from their experiences can be invaluable. That’s why I joined an SVN Peer Circle.
Our Peer Circle meets in person for three hours once a month and each time, one person shares a challenge or opportunity that they’re grappling with and the other members give feedback from their experiences and offer support. Our ten-person group is incredibly diverse and spans a range of ages, experience-levels, industries and cultural backgrounds. It includes executives at major brand-name social enterprises, Harvard MBA entrepreneurs, environmental/social political advocacy leaders, certified B Corps, technology startups, impact investors and more. What unites us is a passion for entrepreneurship and a desire to use business as a force for positive social and environmental impact.
There’s no question that it’s been valuable to present and get feedback from the group, but what really astonishes me is how much I’ve learned from listening to the other presentations. Each meeting is a unique opportunity to hear these incredibly brilliant and accomplished leaders share their most intimate hopes, fears and dreams openly. That’s something you can’t get from the average keynote presentation or panel discussion! The level of trust we’ve built in our group allows us to be open with each other in a way that’s truly rare in most business networking relationships. It’s also rewarding to support and give feedback to each presenter and to learn from all the wisdom that is shared by the other group members as they respond to the presentations.
One of the best things about my Peer Circle experience is that we’ve developed real friendships with each other. The chemistry in our group can be described in a word as: magical. When I joined the group, I expected to forge some business relationships, but I didn’t realize that I would also form deep new friendships with the other members. I look forward to our meetings all month! Participating in a Peer Circle is one of the most valuable benefits of SVN membership and I highly recommend joining one immediately, if not sooner!"