Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women On Business writer
I read an article recently about the many benefits which accrue to companies that form advisory boards. Though not to be confused with Boards of Directors, which have specific fiduciary responsibilities, advisory boards are neither accountable nor do they have decision-making authority. They can, however, be valuable in a number of ways. In essence, advisory board members are chosen, based on their expertise, to give advice. It’s a good idea and it struck me that if companies do it – why not individuals? Wouldn’t each of us profit by assembling a team of advisors for the “me” brand?
It doesn’t have to be anything formal. It really comes down to the idea of proactively selecting a few people who you can call upon to be helpful as you move forward in your career, and regularly staying in touch with them. The first step in creating your own advisory board is to determine the areas in which you need and want input.
Do you need help with political savvy? Presence and style? Leadership skills? Communication? Connections? Career management? Negiotiation? Think about the top three to five areas where you need help based on feedback you’ve received or categories in which you know you’re weak. Rank the attribute you would be most interested in learning more about as number one – and so on.
Then you’ll want to think about the people you know who possess knowledge and expertise in these areas. If you’d like to do better in your communication, for example – ask yourself who has communication skills you admire? Or if you want to meet people in your field – who is the best networker you know? These can be people inside or outside your company, a former – or even current – boss, males or females.
Once you have a list of possibilities, consider who would make a good “advisory board” member. Qualities to consider are – is the person approachable? Would he or she be honest with you? Is he or she open to mentoring? Does he or she appear able to make the time to get together? Now that you have identified your potential advisors, you’ll need to plan your approach.
The most direct way to approach a potential candidate is to speak to her or him in an informal setting. Let the person know you would like to seek advice on a particular subject and ask if this is agreeable. Make sure you indicate how much time this will involve – and that you are respectful of his or her schedule.
Now you are ready to have your personal advisory board! How you manage your experts will determine how helpful they are to your growth. Stay focused on what you need – and what is realistic – and make the most of this opportunity!
What do you think? Please join the conversation!