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Dr. Stephen Marshall, Chair ETSU Mass Communications, MarketingMel advisory board member

Dr. Stephen Marshall, Chair ETSU Mass Communications, MarketingMel advisory board member

When it comes to flying solo as an entrepreneur, always surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are! One of the best ways I’ve found to do that is through the creation of an advisory board.

Now that MarketingMel is celebrating five years in business there is one thing I can point to that was a *really smart” move.- Forming an advisory board. Imagine my delight when I opened this month’s issue of Success Magazine, and found an article by Emma Johnson titled, “How to Form an Advisory Board.” Ms. Johnson asks several insightful questions and interviews three entrepreneurs about their advisory boards. Well, Ms. Johnson, since we didn’t get to speak, here’s the MarketingMel story!

I formed the MarketingMel advisory board in January 2013. It’s comprised of three men and three women, all very successful in their fields. When I’ve mentioned having a MarketingMel board at public speaking engagements people always are interested in how I went about forming the board, who I asked and what they do. Here are five tips:

1. Invite people who complement your skill set: One of my board members, Dr. Stephen Marshall, was recently promoted to the position of Chair of the newly created Mass Communications Department. Just yesterday we got together at Starbucks and brainstormed with one another. He says I help him keep in touch with the real world (he also consults with a large ad agency) and he helps me keep the pipeline open to fresh, young talented PR majors!

2. Seek board members who will tell you the truth (not your  friends!) Do I have broccoli in my teeth? As one of my other board members describes it, you need people who will tell you if you have broccoli in your teeth. Honesty and candor are important in this role. Since then I have affectionately referred to my board as “the broccoli board.”

3. Listen to these business leaders’ advice: When your board members make suggestions, heed their advice. The whole reason you invited them to your board is that they are smart. I actually have a “to do” list from by last board meeting that I’m working through.

4. Connect your board members with one another: In addition to helping you/your business, make it so that your board members can connect with one another. We’ve all learned so much sitting around the table together and sharing.

5. Vary your meetings: I find that a combination of phone calls, Starbucks one-on-one sessions and full board meetings work well. I like to keep in touch with my board members in some form on at least a quarterly basis.

Do you have an advisory board? What has worked well for you?

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