Where is the best place to find unofficial advisers?
I'm struggling to find good, unofficial advisers for my business. I am not looking to set up an official advisory board in exchange for equity, I just want to develop relationships with experienced professionals. Where should I be looking?
I have found that some of the business-related and generalist networking forums and platforms such as Mosaic Hub, Quora and LinkedIn are a great place to start due to the amazing efficiencies in terms of time, travel costs, and the wide reach to experts all over the world. If you ask a question or make a contact, and you receive a good response (instincts and intuition are helpful here), exchange telephone numbers with the warmest and seemingly most knowledgeable, and you will build a phalanx of unofficial but responsive advisers. I have found in excess of 50 "virtual" advisers by this method, and it has been wonderful for two of my companies so far. Go global and via internet.
Social networks and activities groups are probably the best "places" - e.g. I've met quite a few business folks through a poker meetup; through Argentine tango I've done quite a bit of business.
Lastly, industry groups such as professional associations where speakers share their expertise and volunteering for non-profits like Habit for Humanity may connect you with retired exec's or senior board members.
I believe in Guerrilla Marketing!
I would adopt a practice on of The Financial Service Industry--Centers-of-Influence-people recognized for ethics, integrity, etc . First in my LinkedIn Network and then referrals from respected colleagues.
Next, I would would just cast a large Multi-Cultural Diversity net of the types of people I would build relationships anyway.
Finally, I would take a look at those who were an "Un-Official" Board in terms of their mix collectively--Personalities, Industries, Expertise, etc--I call mine GAB--Global (Un-Official) Advisory Board--my fun nature.
Simple, cheap, & direct:
SCORE (Senior Core of Retired Executives), local governmental "development" agencies, and incubator services at local colleges.
Not so simple & direct:
Venture Capital groups/firms. Some VC groups will be more than happy to help considering they could be on the inside track to partnering on the business (Enlightened Self-interest.)
You got a lot of good advice already Jen. I saw one suggestion to build your network and thats a really good one. My add to that would be to ask your network to look at THEIR networks and give you some suggestions on people you should talk to. I think you need to help by defining where you think your weakness might be and thus identify where you are best assisted by the initial adviser and build out from there. Bringing in a marketing guy to help with a finance weakness will probably only aggravate you (I know sounds obvious). If I can help you out in any way, please let me know.
My suggestion is to join a CEO Roundtable. Vistige and Convene are two I am familiar with. They are not networking groups infact members are discouraged from doing business with each other. This helps promote the candid advice you are seeking.
Jen, There are networking events happening around the country that might provide you with the right advise. There are also groups like this and LinkedIn where professionals compare notes, if you don't mind sharing your questions with others. I am leaving a link to Networking after dark, which might help you find some face to face discussions and advise. Mine is in Dallas but I think they have these in other major cities. LinkedIn has groups for just about anything. Maybe you can get some advise there. I might be in agreement with Mel too if I knew exactly what kind of help you're looking for!
Internet is the way to go, right here on Mosaic, Linkedin, Facebook, and try other proffessional internet groups
Hi Jen. What's your definition of an unofficial advisor?
If I said, "I want an unofficial girlfriend, where do I find one?"
What does that sound like? What would you be thinking? Is it the same thing as Friends with Benefits? A random relationship with no commitment... How does that make you feel?
Do you want advice without accountability? Someone to empathize with you without asking you tough questions?
I believe Wayne said it best already.... I have nothing more to add.