I once heard a quote:
“a good mentor is like a side-view mirror. They look out for your blind spots.”
The process of constructing a mentoring board, also known as a personal board of advisors, is described extremely well in an article entitled One Mentor Isn’t Enough. You Need to Build a Personal Board of Advisers. Your goal, should you decide to embark on this journey, is to: “appoint a board of directors, advisors who can provide expertise that you lack.”
To build a mentoring board, make sure you’re finding a fit for your lifestyle. I like to choose a diverse membership to give me varied perspectives. One technique I used as a woman of color was to purposely select a white male, white female, black male, and black female. The demographic makeup should not matter, but this technique has exposed me to folks I normally would not communicate with day-to-day. Carrying out this one strategic step has made a difference.
Three steps outlined below will lead you to similar success:
1. Develop Self Awareness
According to Inc., “creating a helpful board of advisors depends largely on an individual’s accurate assessment of his or her strengths and weaknesses.” Employ journals, learning logs, and other after-action reviews. To truly know yourself, I feel it’s important to take one of the following assessments: Myers-Briggs Type Indicators, Disc, etc. It’s important to gather greater insight on your individual composition and gain insight into yourself.
Embrace a technical magazine in your daily tech regimen that keeps you abreast of trends in your field and is enjoyable to read. Subscribe to a publication or podcast regularly as well as their social media presence for up-to-dates on workshops and other learning opportunities. Dual use this time to locate your mentoring board members or renowned experts. Do not limit yourself to people in your geographic area and apply online methods like Zoom and FaceTime to connect.
2. Broaden membership in your personal board of advisors.
Inc. equates having a diverse portfolio of investments to “the portrayal of a personal board from multiple sources.” Go deep and wide to find conducive learning and development that help you.
I choose to join professional organizations with people of like ambitions. It is best to attend in-person and participate in pre-meeting network events to bolster connections until you have a familiarity with who’s who. Take advantage of introductions to know the lay of key contributors or experts in your field that may not be otherwise accessible.
If you are employed, check to see if professional membership fees are covered as a company benefit. Otherwise, write off membership fees on your taxes for professional development.
3. Allow your network to evolve and change
A personal board develops you and Inc. states that “one evolves over time as one’s career unfolds and one’s life changes”.
You may need to hire (or fire) persons on your board to advance. Continual learning helps position you for achievement. Peruse LinkedIn and request informational interviews or follow your favorite company or groups to evolve your network. MeetUp is another collaboration tool to link people of common interests. Due to the fast pace of change within technology, staying current is a mandatory requirement. Attend a quarterly workshop or in-house training at a vendor site to diversify your experience. Keep momentum going toward your personal and professional aspirations.
- Learn the difference between a mentor and sponsor
- Setup a mentor board, and select a goal for each member on your board
- Take a personality assessment and have your results interpreted for you
- Identify your professional organization(s) you want to be follow or be involved with in your career field
- Determine a magazine, podcast, or regular publication to incorporate in your regimen
Gain an understanding of the difference between a mentor and a sponsor to propel you to the SWIFT-U higher level.
Dr. Denise N. Haskins
For additional information, study the following areas: Mentor board, personal boards.
Book Reference: “Forget a Mentor, Get A Sponsor” by Sylvia Ann Hewlett