We have a few people who I think of an UnEmployees. They are people who we have almost hired over the years (sometimes more than once), but never have, people who are in our industry and are friends of Return Path. Sometimes they are clients or partners, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes they have a token stock option grant as advisors, sometimes they don’t.
In any case, these people have played an incredibly valuable role in our company’s development over the years. They are extra “eyes and ears” for us that have often served up valuable information before any of our regular employees heard things. They have made powerful connections for us with other companies in the industry. They know us well enough to know our products and strategy and have given sound advice — unasked for, but always appreciated. They’re probably more valuable to us as UnEmployees than as employees!
Our UnEmployees aren’t industry luminaries or CEOs, and they’re not classic advisors or Board members. They never meet as a group, and there’s nothing really formal about the relationship. I’m not sure if other people have had this experience with their companies’ ecosystems, but I’d recommend creating it if you don’t.