Who’s on your panel?

It’s well-known that companies – public and private, for profit, nonprofits and not-just-for profits – all go to great lengths to put together a panel of advisors. Although some have advisers on a more formal basis than others,  the common theme is that businesses rely on the advice of those they believe are in the know. 

That said, it’s amazing that in this day and age there are those who wing it in this area of their careers. 

Aside from putting their expertise to the test, here are a few ground rules that will help you build your own panel of advisers – one you can trust. 

  1. Are your advisers interested in your success?  Ask panel candidates if you’re not sure.  And make sure that they follow their words with actions. If they say that they will introduce you to their network, there better be a follow through within 24 hours of meeting them.
  2. Are they effective?  The best way to tell an effective person from a slacker is the speed with which they return your phone calls and emails.  It’s such common practice in the business world to return phone calls the same day and emails within 24 hours, that it’s become like a hand-shake.  Aside from showing their respect towards you, failing to respond promptly is a sign of disorganization.  Does it make business sense to follow the advice of an unstructured person? 
  3. Your parents are not advisers.  You read right.  Often I come across people who take their parents’ advice as gospel.  At times they may be the few lucky ones whose parents happen to work in similar fields or in closely related industries.  However, more often than not, I find that people seek out their parents for advice out of habit.  Not because it’s a well-thought business decision.  And that’s the key phrase – business decision.  To be effective, picking panel members needs to be guided by business principles.  That said – parents, please don’t take this personally (it’s business).   And you?  Get out of your comfort zone.  Look for imitation-worthy people – regardless of their bloodline.
  4. Are they imitation-worthy? The easiest way to determine this is to figure out how committed someone is to excellence.  Excellence is not perfection.  Rather it’s a commitment to being better every day.  Those who strive for it often lead extraordinary lives, tend to be self-aware – and are interested in supporting others achieve greatness in their lives too.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.  It shows that you take success seriously and that you’re commited to achieving your goals.

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