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Why Do I Need an Advisory Board and How Do I Build It?

Posted by Devin Cole  June 7, 2012 05:17 PM

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Is your organization considering forming an Advisory Board?

It’s a step that many organizations are taking on a daily basis in order to fortify their leadership teams and propel business growth with executive counsel.

Whether you are a nonprofit, a private or a public company, the need is there. An Advisory board has the ability to provide strategic counsel from an industry and competitive perspective on various topics of expertise. The time and money invested in your advisory board members should be far outweighed by the counsel and strategic value they impart on your organization.

Now, how can you build the best advisory board and make the most of this investment?

The current economic environment demands that organizations leverage all possible resources in order to survive. And doing so only cultivates a culture of resourcefulness that catapults organizations beyond their competitors. It is imperative that your advisory board become a critical resource with the skills, expertise, or contacts needed to move your business forward.

How to determine if you are recruiting the right advisory board members (and how to do so in a resourceful manner):

  • Evaluate the vision of your organization and how exactly your advisory board should impact the strategies of your executive platform. Conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to truly understand how an advisory board can help you where you need it most. Match each candidate to those SWOTs for ongoing guidance.
  • After creating that list, evaluate your executive team against the SWOT. Are there gaps? If so, fill the gaps with talent.
  • When you begin the search for a prospective advisory board member, leverage your existing contacts to help you uncover trusted candidates that match your criteria. This will help to avoid the lengthy and costly process of leveraging a board recruitment firm.
  • Personalized outreach goes a long way. Begin first with the resources available to you, such as professional social networks like LinkedIn or BoardProspects, which is exclusive to boardrooms and makes it easier to quickly find relevant connections with applicable backgrounds.
  • In a for-profit company the best advisory board candidates are those who have no personal or financial connection to the executive team or the organization. This ensures that the advisory board members present unbiased opinions and perspectives.
  • After you find the right prospects, conduct a thorough background check as you would with any interviewee to make sure they fit the mold of your ideal candidate. Evaluate their past experience, executive memberships and other board positions, as well as their interests. Do they have a professional style and work ethic that will be a value-add for your organization? Also, make sure that their personality is one that will be engaged and committed to the current advisory board culture.

If you follow this process, you are only further ensuring that your board brings you value and that, without a doubt, the decision to create or strengthen your board was the right one.

Mark Rogers is the founder and CEO of BoardProspects, an online professional community dedicated to building better boards for private, public and non-profit organizations, launching in Summer 2012. Prior to founding Board Prospects, Rogers practiced law, advising non-profit and for-profit entities on corporate governance and boardroom matters. He was an adjunct faculty member at the New England School of Law, is published and lectures frequently on governance, compliance, board policies, corporate liability, health care policies and more. Rogers received his J.D. from Suffolk University Law School and Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of the Holy Cross.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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