How to find mentors - your personal board of advisors

Just like a corporation, we can benefit from a roundtable of experts to call upon for advice when we need it. Here are our suggestions on how to build your own "Board of Advisors".

A board of advisors will compliment you, the management, by bringing in expertise in the areas you may be lacking. When applied to your daily life, an "advisor" can look more like a mentor, a team member/superior, or even just a friend who brings perspective. It is important to develop these advisory relationships in our careers, but even more so in the other aspects of our lives.

As an example, many churches, prior to performing a marriage, will require a young couple to meet with another, more experienced couple, to absorb their advice and wisdom. The experts you call upon don't need to be professionals, they simply need to have experience in the area that you are seeking advice.

So how can you start building your own board of advisors? Follow these tips:

1. Look beyond professionals - A friend who has a great handle on her finances is a great place to start when seeking help setting up a budget. A relative who has exhibited great emotional resilience is the perfect person to seek out when you are struggling with a break-up.

2. Nurture relationships - It is not right nor is it fruitful to only reach out to your mentors when you need something. Provide value and nurture your relationships from an honest and giving place. You will find that, in your time of need, these relationships will be there to support you.

3. Give back - Advising is a two-way street. Look for opportunities to offer your advice in the same way you would like to receive advice. Doing so helps you build upon skills you have an aptitude for, and boosts your confidence in your ability to solve problems - even if they are someone else's.

4. Understand your advisors - Be aware of the generation of the advisor you are seeking. This can help you to understand how best they would like to help you, and their understanding of the expectations of a mentor/mentee relationship.

Keep these principles in mind when choosing the individuals you turn to in your life. Make the cultivation of your own board of advisors one of your long term goals.

To learn how to communicate, persuade and engage your potential advisors, check out our Building Your Leadership Skills Checklist.