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Five Important Things to Consider When Building and Maintaining A Personal Board of Advisors.
Featuring: Kristin Thompson Poelker, CFP®, Financial Advisor with Renaissance Financial
As you start the new year, there’s no better way to achieve your personal and professional goals than by putting a team around you, posits Forum Member Kristin Thompson Poelker. Known for her impressive networking skills and leadership, Kristin understood from a young age the importance of not going it alone – and she is quick to credit her Board of Advisors. Here are her suggestions on the critical aspects of building and maintaining a personal Board of Advisors.
Include those with a “like worldview,” but who are not “just like you.”
When you have a vision of what you’d like to achieve, build your Board of Advisors with those who have similar, but not the same view, Kristin says. “The ones who have the same goals I do but approach them in other ways can be very helpful. It’s not usually about a specific industry, title, or role; I look for individuals to advise me who have something I don’t: network, experience, talent, resources.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for support from someone who is intimidating, or someone you may not normally approach, she suggests. “Meeting with them will allow you to see things differently. Just go up to them, say ‘I want to learn from you,’ or ‘You have something I could grow from.’ More people are willing to help than not.”
After asking someone to advise you, don’t be flippant. When you say, “I’ll text you to set something up,” do so, and don’t miss the appointment. “Remember, they are giving up their time. It is up to you to schedule and be prepared. You only get out of it what you put into the relationship,” Kristin says. “Soak up everything like a sponge.”?
That doesn’t mean you have to keep a certain cadence of meetings. “My Advisory Board is informal, based on need. I rarely assemble them together, but instead initiate separate conversations on topics of their expertise to not waste their time.”
Be ready for feedback.
Your advisors should be willing to give you the feedback you need. “Sometimes, you just need encouragement, the reassurance that things take time, or that you’re not alone and to keep going,” she says. “Other times, it’s different. I have always wanted helpful feedback, a kind of ‘lovingly critical’ approach to challenge me. It’s important that you have that dialogue with your advisor and be open to honest feedback.”
"When I am working with junior advisors, I tell them ‘here’s how I thought you handled it,’ and ‘here’s what we can do better next time.’ The goal is getting them from good to great, and I want that betterment for myself.”
Let your Board of Advisors evolve.
“When I first started working, I realized I needed to hear from more established professionals on how to build my career. My Board of Advisors migrated to other professionals – specifically female business owners and females in financial advising space who were closer to my career, even directly on same path. I didn’t know what success would look like, and they helped me.” she says.
Now it has moved to ‘How do I have this career and take care of my family? What are the appropriate metrics to track growth?’ I met with another woman in my industry who is at the tail end of her career (whose kids are grown) about pursuing management roles, and about growing my business to the next level with a family. Those conversations weren’t relevant to me 10 years ago. Ten years from now, I’ll be looking at other issues with other advisors.”
It's fairly obvious to stop seeking advice from those who aren’t helpful, who are too negative or overly critical. “It’s just as important to realize that sabotage does exist, and it can be sneaky. For example, someone in an advisory role who brings in their own insecurity may appear to be on your side but wants to cancel your enthusiasm, or thinks all of your ideas are dumb. It can be confusing and discouraging if you think they are giving you good advice. Trust the ones who support you and don’t bring their own drama.”
Surrounding yourself with a strong team will help you achieve what goals you’ve set for yourself this year. Using Kristin’s wisdom will help you build a strong Board of Advisors that will grow as you do!