personal advisory board

The idea of finding your people and having a support network is nothing new. But if you want to excel, it might be time to consider having your own personal advisory board. 

Now, this might sound over the top but imagine if you had a group of people who were committed to your success in any and every area of your life.

People who believe in your ability and dreams, and who treat you as the person you want to be, not just the person you are right now. People whose counsel, support and expertise you could seek when you needed it. 

Having this kind of support can offer opportunities and possibilities beyond your imagination, as well as allowing you to navigate challenging circumstances gracefully.

What is a personal advisory board?

As Lewis Howes puts it “a personal advisory board is a group of people that you build around you to give you wisdom, inspire you, and …. create accountability.”

This group is a figurative board. They don’t formally meet but instead, they’re people whose opinions you value and respect, and that you can call upon for support and guidance as and when you need to.

In some cases, this may involve regular, scheduled contact and in others, it might be ad-hoc. However, the key is to have these people available to you as resources when you need them. And that requires, like networking, to have considered, established and invested in strong relationships ahead of when you need them.

This curated group of people collectively offer you wide-ranging and comprehensive guidance and advice. Individually, each person on your personal advisory board is there for their unique perspective, experience or skill set.

This group of people can be from all walks of life and may have nothing in common except for you.

Each person’s advisory board will look different depending on your needs, desires and life circumstances. Below I’ll share how to find your people and some key considerations when putting your own personal advisory group together.

Who should be on my advisory board?

It’s important to consider what areas of your life you need guidance and direction on, both now and in the future.

Keep in mind that each person should be there for a unique reason and offer a different perspective or skill set.

To get started, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I need help with in my life/career/business?
  • What are my knowledge or competency gaps?
  • Who can help me with this?
  • What experience, skills and perspective do they bring?

Your personal advisory board will likely consist of a mixture of professionals contacts, paid advisors as well people you have a personal relationship with.

It should be a diverse group and it’s worth considering the following roles:

  • The Devil’s Advocate – who is someone that constantly challenges things and always asks the hard questions?
  • The Subject Matter Expert – who has the expertise and knows the details about what I am trying to achieve?
  • The Sage – who has the experience of achieving this and could offer wisdom and insight?
  • The Protégé – who is the ‘up and comer’ in this area who may have a new and unique perspective?
  • The Supporter – who is the person that always has my back and believes in more than I believe in myself?
  • The Risk-Taker – who is willing to be daring and take bold steps outside their comfort zone?
  • The Accountability Partner – who will keep me honest and on track?

Different people will bring different values and that is why the advisory board model is so powerful. You get what you need from the experts when you need it.

How to find your people and establish strong relationships

When finding your people who’ll form your personal advisory board consider this:

Who are the people that will push you beyond your limits, challenge you, educate you, inspire you and support you?

Think outside the box – consider your network, both intimate acquaintances and far-reaching. Be willing to seek paid professionals where you don’t have the expertise or skill set freely available to you.

Once you’ve identified your ‘dream team’, reach out individually with grace and openness. Always be upfront with what you want, so they know what they are committing to. Below is an outline of how to do this effectively:

  1. Share with them your goals and personal vision
  2. Explain why you’ve sought them out (i.e. what unique experience, knowledge or perspective they have that you value); and
  3. Clearly articulate what you are requesting i.e. how often you anticipate their involvement and how you’ll connect

In making these requests, bear in mind that people are generally eager to help but are often unable to make an ongoing commitment.

Finally, remember the strength of your advisory board will reflect the time and effort you put into cultivating it. This requires you to establish it before you need it.

Find your people and be conscious to ensure they don’t just hear from you in a moment of panic or on the verge of critically decision making. Instead, invest the time and effort in establishing strong, respectful and mutually beneficial relationships over the long term.

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