We have all heard a lot about networking over the years and how it is important for each of us to get out into the marketplace and build our network. Although I agree that building this personal network is important, it is what you do with the network you create that will determine your future success.
The focus of this post is not on leveraging your network for business or sales but rather working with your network to set up what I call an Advisors Network. No one knows everything that is needed to be successful in life and business in every circumstance. We all need help in many areas over the course of our lifetime. This is where the Advisors Network comes in. It allows you to leverage the expertise of many people when you need this specific expertise. Each of these people brings something to the table that you may not have as a strength or as a skill.
The Advisors Network consists of three parts; a Mastermind Group, a personal Board of Directors and an Advisors Council. These are explained in more detail below but the important thing to remember as you read this article and set up your Advisors Network is that you need to give more than you receive. If you contribute to others more than you expect to receive in return, your Advisors Network will flourish and you will be setting yourself up for lifelong success.
“You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar
Purpose – to challenge you to achieve growth in all areas
Everyone needs to be actively involved with a Mastermind group. This is a group of four to eight people that meet regularly (at least once a month) to review and discuss all aspects of life; personal, family, business, career, health, etc. This group should be diverse from an experience perspective and it should consist of people that are the best and the brightest in their field of expertise. You want the best people possible in your group because, as Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” The purpose of the group is to challenge and support each other to new levels of growth and achievement. Once you establish your group it should stay in place permanently with very little turnover. There is a great description of the mastermind group concept in Les Hewitt’s book The Power of Focus Tenth Anniversary Edition: How to Hit Your Business, Personal and Financial Targets with Absolute Confidence and Certainty.
I created my Mastermind group with two people that I knew and then leveraged their contacts and brought in a third person. All my Mastermind team members are entrepreneurs but in completely different areas. We have a finance, tax and investment expert, an IT and internet expert and a serial entrepreneur with expertise in engineering, directionally drilled pipelines and African orphanages. The diversity in our group allows for great discussions, advice, solutions and referrals to resources outside our group whenever additional expertise is required.
The key with this group is to strive for growth and success while contributing more than you receive and, in doing so, supporting your group’s members as they support you.
“The inner circle should consist of “the wise men of the state” who are instructed to speak honestly and candidly on any matters on which the prince seeks their counsel.” Machiavelli
Personal Board of Directors:
Purpose – to support your decisions in all areas
Everyone should have a personal Board of Directors. I have seen this set up similar to a Mastermind group but I define it differently. My personal Board of Directors is a group of people that I can go to directly for advice on anything. I know these people but I am not necessarily close to them. My Board of Directors includes my Mastermind team members but expands beyond this. I do not meet regularly with this group of people and most of them don’t even know they are part of my Board of Directors. I have legal experts, business experts, health experts, technical experts, etc. This group can experience a lot of change over the years as needs change and expertise comes and goes.
The key with this group is to find experts that will give you advice when you need it and for you to contribute back to each member as much or more than you receive.
“Effective leaders coach their people and actively seek coaching themselves.” Robert Steven Kaplan
Purpose – to encourage personal and professional growth
Like a Mastermind group and a personal Board of Directors, everyone needs to have a clearly defined Advisors Council. Again, I have seen this defined several ways but for me, my Advisors Council consists of people who are experts in their particular domain. This group of people is much broader than the Mastermind group or the personal Board of Directors but it may include members from each of these groups. Unlike the people in the other groups, I do not know most of the people in my Advisor Council. Similar to the Board of Directors, the Advisors Council will, and should, change over the years. I have listed some of my Advisors Council below for your reference.
The key with this group is to learn from them as much as possible. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge and they share this through their books, online seminars, speaking events, etc. Most of the Advisors Council will be well respected people in their fields of expertise and, in most cases, you can not contribute back to these people directly because you don not know them. However, you can take what you learn, apply it and mentor those around you with what you have learned.
“Good teachers are costly. Bad teachers cost more.” Bob Talbert
Communication and Relationships
If you are able to set up a diverse and solid Mastermind group that is composed of the best and the brightest people in their fields, you supplement this with your personal Board of Directors and you establish and learn from a respected Advisors Council, you are well on your way to setting yourself up for lifelong success.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.” Solomon