Qualities to Look for in an Advisor

In a previous post, we looked at why doctors, pharmacists, and nurses would want to join advisory boards. In this post, we’re going at it from the other side and examining what qualities you should be looking for in a potential advisor before signing them up ⎯ and the one quality you should NEVER consider.

1. They Should Be Familiar With You

This isn’t to say they have to be a die-hard advocate of yours, just people who are knowledgeable about your company and brand. Including customers is a great way to have people who are familiar with your brand be able to provide viable feedback. They are most familiar with when and how to use your product and have first hand knowledge of patients’ receptivity and response to your medication.

The obvious exception is when you’re a new brand or company and no one’s heard of you. In that case, be prepared to present some sort of credibility at the offset ⎯ perhaps a past success story. But your advisors should at least have heard of you.

2. They Should Be Collaborative

As more advisory board activity migrates online and into asynchronous channels, a natural penchant for collaboration is more important than ever before because you won’t always have the benefit of proximity to encourage cooperation.

You’re looking for people with teamwork in their backgrounds, though not necessarily in their current roles, but somewhere in their pasts. And it doesn’t even have to be in their professional pasts.

If they’ve done improv classes, they learned the concept of “yes, and…” ⎯ a two-word phrase that keeps skits going by never letting the situation come to an end with a “no” or a simple “yes.” So if the skit takes place on a plane and #1 says, “You look scared, are you afraid of flying?” #2 would say, “Yes, and this is my first time so I’m kind of freaking out.” This would lead #1 to say, “Yes, and I understand that ⎯ I was scared the first time I flew. Where are you going?”

And before you know it, a conversation.

You want people on your advisory board who understand this concept. And you can tell rather quickly with a simple tête-à-tête. See how they communicate with you. If the conversation flows between you and them, it’ll flow between them and the rest of your advisory board. And it will be very helpful if you decide to set up an asynchronous communication platform, where you need people who’ll take initiative.

3. They Should Have Diverse Personal Interests

A cross-section of professional perspectives is a good thing (nurses, doctors, pharmacists, community members), you want a variety of opinions to generate debate and deeper thinking. So is a cross-section of talents. Get to know the people you’re considering and ask them what they do outside of work. For example, someone who likes karaoke is probably more on the outgoing side, whereas someone who likes bridge is probably more analytical. Put those two people together in a room and they could complement each other quite well.

4. They Should Have an Email

We often find clients wanting their “high profile” customers to be on their online boards. Yes–these key opinion leaders and national influencers are very important to the company and brand–but are they the right people for a virtual board?

A simple way to access is to find out if they even have an email. This is the absolute basic requirement to be able to participate in a board online. If they do not have email or rely on their admin assistant to sort out their emails–they may not be the best people for online touchpoint activity engagement.

Basic tech savviness, such as having an email, should be a major consideration in who you choose.

5. And the One Quality You Should Never Consider?

Availability. Because that leads to settling, and when you’re putting an advisory board together, settling for someone just because they’re not doing anything else is the worst. Do you think Apple does that? Virgin? Toyota? No. If you identify someone you want on your board and they’re not available, convince them to become available. Or go ahead with the one day meeting and bring them up to speed offline on what they missed, so they will be ready for the next touchpoint. If it’s not going to happen, go back to searching for the next right person and not the next “right there” person.

The best two pieces of advice we can give you: be discerning, and remember that you’re building a team to be greater than the sum of its parts. And ideally, a team that will last long beyond a meeting.