Six Questions to Consider When Invited to Serve on an Advisory Board By: Susan Hammond
The decision to serve on an advisory board is as serious as agreeing to serve on the board of directors of a nonprofit or company. Consider the following questions to determine if you're a good candidate to be on a board of advisers:
- How much work experience do you have? Put yourself in the shoes of the business owner or CEO, would you listen to you?
- What are your strengths & weaknesses? Do you know what you are good at? Or what you are passionate about? Being an adviser is not a place where you can show up unprepared and not participate. It is not a place to use as a resume builder. Often there are a small number of advisers so your lack of involvement will be acutely noticed. You need to know that what you can contribute based on your knowledge and experience is important to the business owner.
- Do you have sufficient time? Agreeing to be an adviser means you are willing to take calls, go to meetings outside the normal advisory board meeting schedule and mentor the CEO & perhaps senior staff members. While the business owner will give you their best estimate of time required, a rapidly changing economic scenario makes it hard to predict. If you're already overcommitted this is not something to squeeze in.
- Why do you want to serve on an advisory board? If you're looking to be a hero you'll be sorely disappointed. If you are looking to learn and meet people you might not otherwise then an advisory board is a good place to do both.
- Are you willing to open your network? One of the reason people are recruited to be advisers is the contacts they have that might further the growth of the company. If you are too protective of your contacts and unwilling to make introductions you're wasting everyone's time.
- Do you need to be paid? Not all advisory boards pay in the beginning if ever. Sometimes "payment" is in the people you meet and the knowledge you gain. If this isn't enough then don't sign on.
You may be flattered to be asked to serve on a company's advisory board. Failure to understand why you want to be on this particular or any advisory board and what you expect in return sets you up for disappointment and potential embarrassment. Choose wisely.