Network Your Way to the Boardroom Table

Joining a board role is not the same as getting a position for which you applied. Boards are usually more exclusive and function like a fraternity or private business club, where candidacy is only possible by invitation. You may be thinking about connecting with search firms and keeping them close to fulfil your board dreams, but the harsh reality is that you need to network with existing board members instead. This is because search firms are only responsible for a limited number of board seats, since they are expensive and charge exorbitant amounts to fulfil a board search. As one can continue to work while serving on a board, it is a much simpler process for board members to look at their immediate networks when a position opens up. Thus, you want to be part of the friends, old colleagues and acquaintances they think about, when they need to consider a potential candidate.

Get into the Habit of ‘Selling Yourself’

Even if you convince someone in your social network to invite you for an interview, think twice before being conventional and expanding on the chief accomplishments of your lucrative career. Instead, ask some insightful questions regarding what the potential board role would entail, and match them with your area of expertise. One also needs to do thorough research regarding the organisational brand, and the requirements of the board in the present scenario. After you have armed yourself with knowledge, you can proceed to showcase the specific skills sought by the board.

Develop a Board-Focused Resume

Networking is far more effective when you have a board-focused resume in tow, to further highlight your unique skillset for an advisory position. Even if you do not have previous experience with a board, you might have been indirectly involved through your work, with a board committee or been part of the board of a subsidiary at your organisation. You need to convince the hiring committee that you are more than capable of handling an oversight-based role, as opposed to a purely operational one.

Be Visible Both Online and Offline

In this day and age, you need to find innovative ways to stand out from the competition for a coveted board role. You must not only be good at what you do, but make a strategic effort to bring your suitability to the forefront. Continuous learning is a great way to stay current in the industry, and comprehend the fast-moving developments of business and technology. Further, engaging on social media is a must. Start by building a strong profile on LinkedIn by seeking recommendations from peers and supervisors, and creating a large set of connections. In the professional world, it is an effective medium to keep in touch with people, re-connect with work colleagues and find individuals from similar backgrounds. Moreover, you should also understand the workings of Facebook and Twitter, and have an active profile even if you do not use it frequently.

It’s All About Who You Know

In order to let your network, ease the way to a board role, you need to cultivate person-to-person knowledge. This implies that at some point, you may have worked together, crossed paths at your local charity drive, or belonged to the same association in the industry. While it is not as straightforward as your friend putting your name down for immediate hire, you may be able to speed past other candidates under consideration in the hiring process if you maintain your existing networks. Getting your foot in the door is a big win, since board roles are rare to come by and even tougher to qualify for.

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