I was having coffee recently with a former colleague and we got on the topic of a personal board of directors. The concept of a personal board of directors is based on, just as you might assume, that of an organization’s board of directors. Reframing your networking goals as building a personal board of directors is a fantastic way to think about making and developing new connections.
Aside from the explicitly assigned roles and duties, some of the most important things a board does is bring diversity to the decision-making process and advise the executives based on their own expertise. Thus, a key aspect of selecting people for such a board is diversity. You will also want to select strong leaders, rather than people who tend to be followers; creative minds, disagreeable personalities, and people who like to play devil’s advocate can offer great perspective.
Be patient with the process—it isn’t going to be quick or overnight and allow it to grow organically/naturally. You may not currently know any of the people listed above, even as acquaintances. Unlike an institutional board of directors, you don’t have to officially appoint your choices; this gives you the freedom to consult who you want when you want, change your mind about the frequency with which you do so, and an ability to be selective about the issues you bring to each. On the other hand, it may be a nice gesture to do so explicitly with a few—perhaps you will inspire them to create their own personal board of directors (advising them in return) or start a small group forum for developing innovations and sharing best practices.