Finding advisors is a game
As a young team, we need a well-rounded advisory board who know what they are doing to guide us and prevent us from making bad decisions simply because of a lack of knowledge.
However, finding impressive strangers to help you could be a scary task, so by adding “gamification” to the process, or simply viewing it as a game, things become a lot more straight forward and less daunting. (How many of you are afraid of approaching a boss in a video game?)
As I pointed out in another post , good networking has 6 Core Values: Integrity, Sincerity, Optimism, Confidence, Initiative, and Persistence. As long as you constantly apply these 6 core concepts in your life, doors will open up in life for you.
1. Decide on the Objectives of the Game
In order to find the right mentors and advisors, you need to first know what are your objectives. Are you trying to create a scalable business? Are you trying to solve certain technology issues?
2. Identify the Kind of Advisors you would need for your Objective
Once you know what your objectives are, create a list of skill sets and experiences that you need to assist you further. Be as detailed as you can, such as “Someone who has 20 years in this field, has brought at least one company successful, and is local to my city.”
3. Create a Hunt-List of Qualified Advisors
This requires some work. You need to go on LinkedIn, go to conferences (and especially check out the speaker list), read the press, and identify a list of super powerful individuals that could be your advisors. Don’t be timid in adding the strongest folks in this list. You never know.
4. Start the Hunt
The next step is to hunt for these advisors. In this day and age, it is easy to find their traces online and possibly offline. See what social networks they spend a lot of time in. See if they have a blog and have a podcast show. Also, pay attention if they are going to conferences soon.
5. Soften up the Ice
6. The Direct hit
7. Sell as usual
During the meeting, you should sell your company just like you would to any investor. Get this advisor excited. Get this advisor to like you. Also, be clear on expectations of what you want from an advisor and what you would give for it. I recommend guaranteeing a monthly 1-hour phone call, as well as in-person board meetings once a quarter. Most startups give out about 0.1%-0.5% of the company for a good advisor that is willing to commit.
8. Add a point on your LeaderBoard
Once you have gotten this advisor to help you, give yourself a brownie point and then go for the next one!
Throughout my career, I have firmly believed that, when you meet passionate and motivated people with a sincere attitude, only good things can happen. Building relationships is one of the most important and meaningful things you can do in life, regardless if it is for professional or personal enrichment. To apply another Gamification Analogy: Outside the comfort zone there is a harmless dragon that looks scary, but you are invincible to it. Once you realize there is nothing you can lose by approaching and talking to more people, you will be ready to slay the harmless dragon.