Advisory boards — It’s good to get advice to fill your recognized and unrecognized gaps

Whether you are starting a business, already in business or within a corporation, an advisory board should be an active part of your professional interactions.

This board, or circle of influencers, is a group of people with a level of expertise and insight you would not independently achieve, helping to guide your professional journey.

When I interviewed many successful leaders to build my own board, I quickly learned that most notable leaders proactively surround themselves with mentors and sponsors who can help fill their recognized and unrecognized gaps. Some leaders have different advisory boards that are segmented. For example, one leader I interviewed is an executive in corporate America, an author and leads the board for a nonprofit foundation.

I realized that even though I did not proactively select people up to that point, I had people I already called when I had good news, bad news or needed business advice.

You also have an advisory board of people that guides you through your professional journey. Now, ask yourself, “Does my current advisory board align with my professional goals?”

If you are like most, you may have some work to do, but it is worth the investment.

A few suggestions to attract great people:

  • Work on yourself first — become what you want to attract.
  • Define your goals — be able to describe where you want to go next and why.
  • Help others first — before asking, offer to help others on their goals.

When developing an advisory board, consider avoiding these don’ts:

  • Don’t leave the selection of the board to chance.
  • Don’t only select those you currently know.
  • Don’t only select people who look or act like you.
  • Don’t get caught up with titles.
  • Don’t build it and forget it.
  • Don’t expect it to stay the same.

The last one always stuck out for me, which is unfortunate but true. Your professional goals will change over time and so should your advisory board, as its main goals are to encourage, challenge and advise you through your career.

These days, with the help of social media, advisory boards have no boundaries. There are new forms of online networking that can be excellent tools to connect with new professionals and align to industry experts. I have actively joined professional groups within LinkedIn where I have observed conversations, posts and levels of expertise. I have proactively connected with professionals that exude a level of expertise that aligns to where I want to go next.

Once you have taken the time to proactively build your board, consider these points to maximize its impact:

  • Do communicate regularly with members.
  • Do share specific milestones and desired direction for more impactful results.
  • Do offer to help your members with their initiatives.
  • Do ask for constructive criticism and welcome honest feedback.
  • Do integrate suggestions where relevant and effective.

JJ DiGeronimo
Purposeful Woman and Tech Savvy Women
JJ is the author of “The Working Woman’s GPS” and “Before You Say YES.” and Women in STEM advocate.