A customer advisory board and/or a partner advisory board provides the host company with tremendous value in terms of company strategy, product direction, market sensing and so much more. On the member side, the value looks quite different, but it is still quite substantial and attractive. This value comes in many forms, primarily in the areas of access to people and solutions, networking with peers, guiding/influencing market trends, bolstering one’s career, and simply enjoying one’s self.
Here are just some of the many ways in which advisory board members realize value from their participation on a board:
- Establish strong relationships with the host company’s senior leadership team
- Beta test the host company’s new solutions before other customers do
- Learn about upcoming product releases in advance
- Learn from guest speakers, such as industry analysts
- Network with your industry peers (many of which you would not have another chance of getting to know)
- Share challenges and solutions with similar business leaders
- Discover best practices you can take back to your organization and implement
- Solve business issues impacting everyone on the board
- Uncover and learn more about significant market trends that impact your business
- Stay at the forefront of major industry happenings – news, mergers, acquisitions, etc.
- Guide the direction of your industry and its available tools
- Influence the host company’s strategic direction and product roadmap
- Influence the host company’s mergers and acquisitions strategy
- Visit exclusive properties and locations
- Participate in fun and exciting networking activities
- Receive VIP treatment from the host company
- Bolster your image/reputation in the industry and enhance your CV/resume
Not all members are created equal and therefore not all members join customer advisory boards or partner advisory boards for the same reasons. Some may join to gain access to certain host company resources such as priority status with its professional services team if a problem were to arise with their new widget, for example. Others may join simply because they enjoy the royal treatment and feel honored to have been nominated. Still, certain members might be in it solely for the purpose of improving their own organization by learning from their peers. Whatever the reasons are for joining an advisory board, members seem to find tremendous value. Exit surveys from all of our events are a testament to this.
When recruiting new members for your board, it is a good practice to lead with many of these benefits. Some members may indicate immediate interest while others may need to hear some of these before realizing the board’s full potential value.
Realizing that a board must be a mutually beneficial initiative for members and the host company, you must keep this balance healthy and have it at the forefront of your mind when developing agendas for meetings and member calls. It is easy to fall into the trap of running events/discussions solely focused on the host company and its needs. You have to consider your members and the value they need to realize in everything you do with your board.