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What is the best way to keep advisors engaged?

Read a blog post from Scout Ventures in NYC yesterday about how Advisors are great iff you can keep them engaged. But it doesn't really offer ways to do so. Would love to hear from entrepreneurs and advisors on what has worked (or not worked) to keep the advisory relationship a productive one. Is it weekly/monthly set meetings? Is it settings up front expectations on time?

9 Replies

Richard P. Ashton, CSO
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Richard P. Ashton, CSO Entrepreneur
Sales Process | Operational Optimization
I find that set meetings (1/2 hour to 1 hour, a day, 2days per week) with advisors is smart. It always flushes out those that are serious and those looking for the no time, easy, high paying case. If they're willing to invest some time, they're worth investing in too! I have always tested individuals with timeliness and loyalty to task at hand, and it has always proven itself as an effective tool!!!
Karin Anne Gregory
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Partner at Furman Gregory Deptula
Yes, use them, I serve as an advisor to some startups and we try to have a call once a month or so on a specific topic not just a general session.
Keith Hopper
3
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Keith Hopper Entrepreneur • Advisor
Product Innovation
Depends on the Advisor and what you use them for. Are they making intros? Coaching your leadership team? Providing product, market or management insights? Each requires a different level of engagement, but I would definitely clarify and set those expectations - even if you didn't do it up-front, do it now.

In many advisory and mentor situations I've not really known exactly what the company wants and I'm sometimes not sure I'll show up in the right way or at the wrong times or communicate through the wrong channels, etc. - so everyone will enjoy clearing this up (oh, and update this clarity as your situation and needs change). To set these expectations, have a discussion. Probably start by asking what an advisor can commit to or what they prefer. It should be a discussion / negotiation rather than a demand, even if you're compensating an advisor with equity.

I am a formal advisor for several startups and I find the engagement is usually more organic than pre-scheduled dates/times, mostly because schedules don't allow it. We set a rough expectation that we will be sure to connect every x number of weeks, then each of us is mutually on the hook to reach out. Usually they reach out when they have a specific need and I reach out when I plan to be nearby.

In my experience, Advisors are compensated with equity. Often, there is some expectation of commitment included in the advisors agreement, and either party can terminate the agreement at any time.

I serve as a formal advisor for several startups.
Rachel Braun Scherl
3
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Speaker on Entrepreneurship, Business Builder, Growth Strategist and Vagipreneur
I have been an advisor and used advisors. I think a regular meeting (monthly is usually good) is important, but oftentimes the needs are much unpredictable. I find these relationships most productive when the advisor and advisee establish some pretty clear objectives for the relationships - areas where you want help, clear next steps for both parties.
Denis Du Bois
1
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Denis Du Bois Entrepreneur
CEO, P5 Group (Cleantech and IT marketing)

Since pro bono advisors aren't getting money, find out what they want and decide whether you're a good match. Then if possible projectize the help you need from each advisor. Projects have timelines and deliverables: review stuff within x days, coaching call every x weeks,GTM plan by x date,etc.If advisors aren't staying engaged, it might be because they have gotten involved so they can look for paying clients. I've seen this a lot in volunteering. They have many opportunities in their pipeline and quickly filter those who aren't likely to pan out soon. If a project isn't moving forward, kill it and start over with someone else.

Lane Campbell
0
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Lane Campbell Advisor
Lifelong Entrepreneur
I hold a weekly meeting between the executive team and the advisors. There aren't any set rules for how this works. Figure out what your advisors can commit to and make it happen.
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Entrepreneur
Stop sending me these emails
Bob Smith
0
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Bob Smith Advisor
Consulting to Boards, CEO's and Key Management Teams, Strategic Investor and Fast Growth Companies
I like to see a specific set or Outcomes, defined within a project or targeted timeframe. Having certain beginning, middle and end aspects, help the relationship stay fresh and productive.

don't let Advisors waste time on things that don't serve what you need and don't waste Advisor time by failing to act.
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Entrepreneur
Unsubscribe me from this list I don't want these discussions
Lane Campbell
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Lane Campbell Advisor
Lifelong Entrepreneur
John stop posting that you don't want email alerts on this discussion. None of us can control these alerts for you.
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