Using advisory board meetings to inspire introductions from your best clients, centers of influence and prospects
An advisory board is a significant strategy for inspiring introductions. It is a group of 6 to 8 people you carefully select and bring together to get feedback and brainstorm on an opportunity or challenge you are facing. The best topic to discuss on the first advisory board meeting is your messaging so they can understand your brand in a way they can easily communicate and start inspiring introductions to those important to them.
Effectively implementing an advisory board strategy that will deepen your relationships with existing clients and COIs, have potential clients want to move forward in working with you and get them all talking about you without even thinking about it. Additionally, your best clients want to be able to give feedback to you a minimum of four times per year - one formal opportunity like a Survey Monkey or advisory board and three informal opportunities via a specific phone call, in a meeting, lunch, etc. The advisory board is a great way for a select group of your best clients to give you feedback in a non-threatening environment.
Last Tuesday I had an amazing experience – I had an advisory board meeting for myself. I like to hold advisory board meetings for myself at least three times per year so I can “practice what I preach.” (I have three advisory boards that meet once or twice per year.) Even though I’ve led dozens of advisory board meetings for myself and 100+ plus for clients, I always learn new things I can to improve the experience for the person hosting the advisory board and the participants.
It was an amazing experience because of the participants, always the most important factor in having an advisory board meeting that accomplishes your goals. Because of the careful selection of participants, they were immediately comfortable sharing information and feedback in front of the group and had an enjoyable time meeting new people to network with.
This last year I have been working hard on refreshing my brand, website and service offerings. In doing so, I have gone round and round tightening my messaging and came to the conclusion I needed to have an advisory board to help me focus. The goal for the advisory board was to critique and create 15 and 30 second messaging plus the answer I should give when asked, “So Paula, what do you do?”
At the beginning of the meeting I did a baseline poll so that at the end of the meeting we could determine if my goal was accomplished. The poll was, “What does Paula do?” I was pleasantly surprised by the responses as they were much more much more in tune with my brand than I had thought. After the poll, we divided the participants into two groups where they were to discuss my messaging. I did not participate in either of the breakouts to make certain there was absolutely no reluctance in giving straight forward feedback.
The group came back together to provide me with the feedback and we had a lively discussion about what was working and what needed tweaks. I learned so much from the group and you will begin seeing the input incorporated into my website and marketing materials. I cannot thank them all enough. Immediately following the meeting I had a survey that went out to all the participants so they could provide additional feedback they may thought of afterwards.
When I tell clients and prospects about advisory boards, some attempt to hold them on their own thinking that it’s as easy as asking a few clients to come together in a room to share information. I have participated in some of these types of meetings and invariably the wealth manager learns things the hard way. In addition to not selecting the right participants, the most often made mistakes are not investing enough time in pre-meeting communications, not having clear goals and not doing any follow-up after the meeting. If you want to try one on your own, here are the top do’s and don’ts:
1. Don’t invite participants for more than one meeting. If it sounds like too big of a commitment, they won’t do it.
2. Don’t do a hybrid meeting. Unless you have someone who is a technical wizard running the technology for you, don’t do a hybrid meeting. It’s too difficult to engage those online and create the chemistry that happens if everyone is around a table. If in-person is not an option, have everyone participate via your online choice.
3. Don’t dominate the conversation. The purpose of the advisory board is to gather the participants input, not for you to go through a laundry list as to what you are doing and why.
4. Don’t hold the meeting without an agenda. Having an agenda shows professionalism and keeps you on track. Even if you don’t follow it step by step, it demonstrates your preparation.
5. Don’t say you’ve done that before in response to a suggestion, idea, etc. Inevitably things will be suggested that you have already tried or a variation of. Hear out the suggestion and listen to other participant feedback.
1. Do define your why for having an advisory board. Document why you want to have an advisory board meeting, your expectations and goals. This is absolutely necessary in order to pick the participants with the expertise you need and to get what you want from the time you are investing.
2. Do select the right number of participants. The right number of participants is between 6 and 8. Always have an even number if you want to do breakout rooms. More than 8 makes it difficult for everyone to have an opportunity to share.
3. Do select the participants that have the expertise you need from different view points. Have two of each of the following: your best clients, best prospects, best COIs and two people who aren’t as familiar with your business. For example, I asked my branding and social media experts to join to complement the expertise of those in financial services. Make certain you have a mix of generations, male and female and diverse backgrounds.
4. Do send out a get to know you email. Introduce everyone prior to the board meeting in an email. Include a link to everyone’s LinkedIn profile on all communications.
5. Do the follow-up and be accountable. Use a brief survey, a gift, a special card and/or a warm call. Follow-up with an email how you have implemented their feedback.
If you’d like to learn more about how advisory boards can help you grow your business, let’s connect! Paula | 612-803-9554 | firstname.lastname@example.org