5 Keys to Building Your Own Board of Directors

5 Keys to Building Your Own Board of Directors

It’s hard to know much about how I came to thrive at the intersection of business, culture and technology without knowing a bit about my story. It is ultimately an empty narrative without a cast of individuals who have and continue to help set my course.

I’m talking about my very own board of directors.

You should have one too. If I listed their names, they may not mean much to you. Only a couple of them are recognizable or even famous, but none of that matters. What matters is that I can call on them at any time for advice and direction about my career.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about having your own board of directors, but those are just buzz words for having a viable sounding board for career matters. And, mind you, this is for those serious about making their way up the career ladder.

Some have referred to it as assembling your own “kitchen cabinet,” but whatever you call it, here’s an effective way to make it happen, from someone with more than 20 years in business.

1)    Do your best work, form solid relationships and let nature take its course.  Your best advocates will come to you. They will recognize something in you, and make the first move. The feeling must be mutual for things to work. Like in dating, it’s a really great way to know without a doubt if they have passion about mentoring, sponsoring or advising you. Ultimately, they need to have a passion for maintaining the relationship with you.

2)    Diversity is key. If everyone on your board looks like you, is in the same stage of career, or in the same company or industry as you, start again.  There is richness in a collective that can bring a wealth of different experiences and points of view to your journey, and some will be more useful at some seasons in your career than others.

(Bonus Content: download my #RelationshipGoals Cheat Sheets here!)

3)    Make new friends, but keep the old.  The old saying says that one is silver and the other is gold. If you still maintain a relationship with your university professors or thesis chairman, leverage it. Onboard new mentees, but keep up with the ones whose careers have taken off and don’t seem to need as much advice. They may have some for you. Former clients from another life? Golden. Work your mix and mix your work, and you will profit from it.

4)    Have a platform and a mission.  Your board of directors is most powerful when they understand your goals. With that in mind, you’ll need to have a crystal-clear understanding of that yourself. If you are mid to late career, I advise developing a solid platform. It should be one that will solve a business problem and take you into new consideration sets. Your board can support you, realize what that can be,  see around corners that you can’t and help you kick down doors when it’s time to make things happen.

5) Be on someone else’s board. It’s not all about you. Pour into someone else, and it has a way of pouring right back into you. Have mentees and give them assignments that will cause them to grow. Sponsor someone, and kick down some doors that you can, perhaps even leveraging your own board.

What has been your experience with your personal board of directors? Are you beginning the process of gathering one? Are you just now realizing that your board has been there for you all the time, you just haven’t tapped into them?

I want to hear your stories! Comment below, or tweet me @lmichellepr.

All the best!

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