Building Your Own Think Tank


I received a question recently from one of my readers in New Zealand. He asked, “I’ve heard the term “knowledge network.” What does it mean, and how does it fit into my business networking efforts”?

Thanks John. This is a great question.

This is a tool that I have used in my own business development for years.  A “knowledge network” or its more formal cousin an “Advisory Board” can prove invaluable to business people in the resolution industry.

I’ll use my own Board as an example.

Just like you, I have to make decisions about growth strategies, internal systems, and much more. As is frequently the case with any complex project, anyone will begin NOT seeing it clearly after a while. Personally speaking, I was relatively young when I started my company. It was important to recognize that there were lots of business experiences that I hadn’t had yet, and many that I didn’t want to know about first hand. In order to
gather the information I needed and avoid some of the inevitable pitfalls, I created
an Advisory Board.

My own Board is comprised of business people who have created their own business
successes over the last 45 years. Most of them are entrepreneurs and only about half of them are in the resolution industry. My Board was designed to involve resolution professionals who understand ADR, my business, and my clients’ needs. All of my advisors are very successful in their own industries (e.g. oil & gas, fashion, construction, real estate, healthcare, entertainment etc.). Their commonalities are that they are all highly successful in their own rights.
Since I have clients all over the world, I intentionally invited Board members who live and work around the globe.  Each of them are kept up to date about my business strategies, subsequent growth, quandaries etc. I don’t seek advice from all of them on every situational need.  Most often, a particular need can be matched with a Board member who has the corresponding specific experience. There are times when many of us meet via conference call and many more times that single calls are made to single advisors.

The Board is informal and not paid for their advice – however we have referred work to each other and frequently provide introductions that have proven to be quite lucrative.

How can you build a Board of your own? Seek out those individuals in your area
that are successful business people. They will provide you much needed advice
and may become tremendous advocates of ADR. Also seek out some of the successful
resolutionists in your area to serve as both ADR and business mentors. Explain
your current position as well as your goals and endeavors. Go to them with specific
questions and challenges that your practice is facing and listen carefully to their
advice. My experience has been that the advice from my Advisory Board has been a
treasure trove of information that no college degree could ever provide.

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