Every study comes to the same conclusion; we're happier, more productive, and more successful in a connected group of peers.
Those peers groups are people in the same roles or life stage as ourselves, not our friends from school, family, or work colleagues.
Make it an imperative today to be in a group of peers. Find out about and join an existing one or start your own. It's never been this easy. You can invite a dozen people in your field to a Facebook, Skype, or WhatsApp group.
You can put £100 behind the bar or restaurant each month and invite a dozen people in the same role as you to dinner. You won't find a better way to spend the money. Every smart, successful, person I can think of spends a lot of time participating in online and offline groups of peers.
Do this right and you'll get access to insider knowledge. You'll know which companies are hiring and how they hire. You'll hear about top talent that might become available for recruitment. You'll be able to get feedback on your best (and worst) ideas. You'll have a support group that helps each other up the career ladder. You'll know which books to buy, what tools to use, and have a set of benchmarks to measure your own work against.
You'll probably also know how much people are paid, how much they pay for service, and whether you're being screwed.
This sort of insider knowledge is more valuable than you'll ever realize. If you're not in a group, then you're outside of one. Most of your peers have an advantage that you don't. You're less valuable to the organisation you work for. You're figuring out your role and the changes in your industry alone. You're going to be more stressed, more isolated, and less productive.
That's nuts. It's so simple today to build your group. You don't need to formalise rules or procedures. You don't need to get formal approval. You just need to find the right and the people. If you provide the place most people tend to come.
Here's a simple way to start a group. The next time you attend a conference, collect the business cards of people you meet. Build a whatsapp group to arrange a post-event drinks/dinner. Then keep the group going. I'm a member of an invaluable group that formed just this way at MozCon.
The really great companies encourage and foster the building of peer groups. They provide a place and a small monthly stipend for peers in different fields to regularly meet one another. They help mention it and try to grow the group.