Is there a trusted group of people you can tap for career guidance, feedback on your ideas, or encouragement when you’re unsure which professional step to take? If not, you may want to consider creating your own personal Board of Directors. The purpose of a Board of Directors, generally speaking, is to ensure an organization's prosperity. The concept also works on an individual level. By leveraging the insight of a select group of people committed to your success, you'll likely be introduced to ideas you may not have previous considered and will feel supported as your career progresses, allowing you to achieve increasing levels of success.
The way we most frequently determine the course of our careers is by making decisions as they come up, often by relying on gut feelings or undertaking some type of short-term exercise, such as creating lists of pros and cons, as critical professional junctures arise.
Considering that your career is one of your most valuable assets, however, seeking ways to inject wisdom through regular conversation and reflection with people you trust could be a much better approach.
Seek to build your Board with a wide range of people in order to make the insights most valuable. There is little use in asking for advice only from people who think like you and have very similar experiences as you. In order to challenge your thinking, be sure to include people who have taken a different path or who are unlike you in outlook, approach, or level of comfort with risk-taking.
Identify 3-4 people of various levels of seniority whom you admire, are familiar with your professional circumstances, and who would be willing to meet with you (individually) several times a year.
Cast your net wide --colleagues, mentors, customers, competitors-- the only common denominator should be that they care about your career progression and are willing to engage in honest dialogue.
You are never too junior or too experienced to enlist a group of interested people who are willing to help you consider where your career is going. In order to stay on track, create a schedule to be in touch with your Board members and keep them informed about your work and your goals.
Bring specific questions to your Board, such as where an industry is going, what you need to do to remain current, and whether they can leverage particular contacts for you.
Look for ways to help members of your Board and to thank them regularly so that the relationship remains fresh and close.