How to build your personal advisory board

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February 26, 2021

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Jessica Marrazzo

How to build your personal advisory board

J

Jessica Marrazzo

Are you looking to build your career, but not sure about how to do so? Perhaps it’s time to consider building a personal advisory board. 

When you work independently, you are effectively your own business – a truly personal brand. And just like a traditional business, many individuals benefit from creating a sounding board of 6-8 peers and senior advisors to provide them with feedback, ideas and advice as they navigate through their career. This time though, it’s completely informal. You can meet up or touch base with your personal advisory board on your own terms: the goal is to help you grow and flourish in your professional life.

Why do I need a personal advisory board?

According to recent research from MIT Sloan Management Review, there are three main benefits to choosing long-term mentors:

  1. Develop self-awareness. Sometimes, when you’re working or planning alone, it can be easy to get wrapped up in your own thoughts and ideas. Your advisors will be able to give you a second opinion on issues raised: either giving you confidence to move forward or helping you to reconsider or adapt to a new strategy. 
  2. Broaden your horizons. Asking for advice from senior leaders is all about personal development. When you’re being guided by someone who is further down the road, you’ll be able to develop your identity more clearly and feel confident in your decisions. Plus, it’s proven to boost your self-esteem too.
  3. Evolve your network. By selecting a variety of figures to join your board, you’ll automatically be opening up your network to a wider range of people. Depending on your needs, you’ll be able to build more connections in specific areas who will also help you to shape your career choices.

Who should I include?

Essentially, there are three types of people that you should invite to be part of your board of advisors:

  1. Fans. These are the people who will support you no matter what. Having said that, they won’t be afraid to give you tough feedback when you need it, but it will always be delivered with kindness and good intent.
  2. Potential sponsors. We’d also recommend including a couple of senior leaders who can advocate for you when it’s time to move up the ranks. They’ll be people who have had professional contact with you and can vouch for your work. Those relationships might open doors for you, recommend you when the time is right or even provide references for you.
  3. Critics. Always include at least one critic on your board: they are tough to approach but will be the most valuable. Look for people who feel more sceptical, playing the role of devil’s advocate for you when making big decisions.

How should we assemble?

It’s completely up to you – the important thing is that it’s uncomplicated for all involved. Some people prefer to meet up as a group twice per year and offer their board dinner. Others meet each person individually, depending on their schedule. Others prefer casual check ins and phone calls when needed.

Whichever option you choose, put it on the calendar with a regular cadence (weekly, quarterly, annually). Treat it like a business board that you block out time for: it’s guiding your future, so you need to make space for it.

What should we discuss?

  • Start by giving your board a clear update on what you’ve been doing. It’s not to impress everyone – in fact, it’s better if you’re honest on what’s gone well and what’s gone badly.
  • Ask for specific advice and insights on your current situation. Talk about your goals too and how you can reach them.
  • Take notes and write a plan of action. It’s important that you make progress once you’ve taken onboard their feedback.
  • Most importantly, don’t waste their time. These people care about you and have invested time in meeting with you. Make sure you follow up and update them on your progress. It’s essentially their return on investment – they get to see the results of their mentorship role in your life.

So there you have it, everything you need to get started on your board of advisors! Here at Dweet, we realise that you might not have easy access to the network of senior people you’d like on your board. That’s why we also offer on-demand advisory, where you can gain insights and feedback from some of our senior community members. If you’d like to learn more about this, please click here to chat to us about how you can get started.

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