Keep in mind that you have to be at the right level for the size, scope and type of enterprise seeking a board member. A small business owner might be invited to a local non-profit board in their town simply by starting to volunteer. But, a corporate executive would more likely be on a regional or national non-profit board through business colleagues. Board positions of privately held or public companies are a greater level of difficulty to achieve as your network needs to include those decision-makers and stake
Here are some tips to get you onboard:
- Landing board positions is about networking as you have to be asked which means you need introductions, and targeting the right sectors and companies.
- Depending on the board, three categories board candidates are sought: fundraising, subject-matter experts of the business or product, and the star power of famous people in business or other walks..
- Target the kinds of business sectors and companies that would want you on their board. This is the biggest challenge. Do it nationally not locally
- Creating an executive summary or resume of your current board activity and organizational participation would be helpful to provide to contacts. Early on in your career try to gain leadership experience in professional associations, trade groups, local non-profits, and business clubs as this demonstrates civic, community, and business concern.
- Since you will be introduced to people who can potentially help you, building a robust digital footprint that shows thought leadership and reputation on social profiles such as Linkedin, Google+, and Quora.
- Write blog posts on Linkedin and start a blog/website to showcase your knowledge and talents. Write on topics related to the companies and business sector boards you have targeted. It is one thing to tell people why you would fit on a board, but often their first impression of you is in print words.
- Make connections with executive search firms in your area to access early on and maintain them. They are often requested to find board members for corporate clients.
- Leverage your university alumni networks to open doors because to them you are a known commodity. Reach out to the ones on boards regardless of location.
- If you start on non-profit boards and participate in philanthropic organizations, you will typically meet executives who are on corporate boards as well. They can make introductions for you.
It is tough getting on boards. The small startup companies want people with either access to venture capital and private equity money or star power in the field. The mid-sized and big public companies want experts and top executives to guide and support their company’s top executives. Private company boards, especially small ones, tend to be an inside job, in that the board members are family, friends, and members of their support system.
The best strategy is ongoing networking in the right place with the right people, so that eventually it is the right time for you to be asked.