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There comes the point in almost any professional’s career where they are looking to develop themselves further. When that time comes, you might feel as though family or close friends’ advice just isn’t cutting it anymore. Perhaps they don’t understand your industry or have different goals in mind for you; whatever the crossroads, it becomes clear you need outside guidance and support. One of the newest trends in the career development realm has been the rise of the personal board of directors (PBOD).

You likely know a board of directors in the context of a company or non-profit. But what would a personal one shape up? Well, simply put, it’s a group of individuals you turn to for advice or as a sounding board. These are relationships beyond merely one coffee meeting or an informational interview, so consider these things when choosing who to include on yours. While your “board” doesn’t typically meet as a whole, formally asking those you want on your PBOD sets a stronger intention for the relationship.

Now consider what you are trying to achieve, a promotion, career change, going back to school, or reentering the workforce. Whatever the fork in the road is, you need to identify that before asking someone to join your PBOD. The reason for that is that who you add to your board should help you specifically with that goal in one way or another.

Once you have established your goals, you need to think about the type of network you need to build to achieve them. Like any corporate board, you want to diversify the perspectives and background of the people you include on your board of directors. Ideally, this group would consist of someone from each of these categories.

  1. The Industry Expert – Someone who knows the industry you work in or want to work in like the back of their hand.
  2. The Networker – This will be someone who’s is the ultimate connector, who loves making introductions and opening doors.
  3. The Sponsor – They will be the ones who actively put you forward for new opportunities, projects, or jobs either at your current company or dream one.
  4. The Challenger – They will push you to think outside the box, take risks and force you to think about things from a different angle.
  5. The Cheerleader – This is the person you go to whenever you need encouragement or positivity.

Now that you’ve got your board picked meet with them! Ask for advice and lean on them but always remember this is an unpaid job. Be sure to show your gratitude every chance you get and respect their time, energy, and resources.