If you are looking to network for maximum impact you are going to want to connect with Chairman, Board Directors, and the key influencers who recommend board director candidates which can include lawyers, accountants, partners in private equity, venture capital and advisory firms, as well as corporate headhunters. The vast majority of board search assignments are unadvertised which means that these appointments come via the business networks where people recommend board directors to the role via their own business networks.
By assessing your own business network, analysing your circle of influence and seeing where other board directors network could be very helpful. You will want to be targeted and there are different places to network for different types of board director opportunities. You will also want to maximise the power of the Director Institute Next Generation Directors network. Attend our business events including boardroom luncheons and Masterclass learning events. The network is very collegiate and a good way to kick start your board career is to form a mastermind group with 4-5 other board directors from the Director Institute network and hold a monthly meeting to discuss board search strategy and hold yourselves accountable.
Networking occurs in a range of places including private business clubs, sporting clubs, membership style industry bodies, start-up business accelerators and incubators as well as at a range of business, sporting, arts, and community events. The key here is to be targeted about the types of connections you want to make and to allocate some time and effort to attend appropriate networking functions. It is also helpful to have a target list of the types of boards you aspire to join and start to track board members and where they are networking and speaking at public functions. The best opportunities are also where you share personal interests as you will find that you will enjoy the event and it can be a perfect marriage between social and business networking.
Key places to network for results include:
Chambers of Commerce
Attend breakfast functions. These, style of events, are well run, they finish on time, and there is a great opportunity here to connect with a number of new connections and to follow up later.
Australian Venture Capital Association
AVCAL runs a number of sophisticated events for private equity and venture capital members. It is a membership group and you would need to join the association either as a sophisticated investor or as a member of the community. This is an excellent way to connect with the principals and partners from the Private Equity and Venture Capital firms. They are often looking for board directors for their investee companies and if you are interested in playing an active role in investing and supporting these style of businesses this could be an excellent avenue.
Professional Services Firms
Professional services firms such as the Big 4 accounting firms, strategy firms, law firms all host a range of functions to share their firms thought leadership with their clients. These events can be very good and may bring you into contact with owners of businesses who are putting in place an advisory board around their business. Partners in accounting and legal firms are trusted advisors to their clients and you will find that a recommendation from these sources re board directors is very valuable. Board search is an area of specialty that these firms do not typically specialize in, so there is an opportunity here to forge good relationships and uncover hidden gem board directorships.
Start-Up Incubators and Accelerators
Start-Up Incubators and Accelerators are another excellent source of leads and opportunities. Almost every start-up business needs advisory board members, directors and mentors to assist them on their journey. These hubs regularly have pitch events where the start up business presents their business to promote their opportunity and raise capital. These events are excellent and can give you a snapshot of current business trends, you can see disruptive business ideas in action and there are often a range of ways that you can engage in this world.
Any private clubs that you belong to can provide numerous opportunities for you to expand your network of connections and networking opportunities. Really, the list is endless, but the key here is to identify the types of board roles that you want to secure, identify where those current board directors network and work out a plan to connect with them via these social and business settings.
Mapping Key Individuals to Board Members
Make lists of CEO’s and board members. Reverse trace their network to build a path of connectors and influencers that can ultimately get you connected. Connectors are individuals who have a wide network of people and enjoy connecting others. Influencers are individuals who are in a position to make or affect decisions. Aim to identify the closest contact you have to at least two decision makers at each organisation. Once you have made these identifications, transfer the information to a spreadsheet so that you can keep track of your network, their contact information, how you met, and the last time you interacted with them.