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Board of DirectorsSo you’ve decided you want to serve on a board of directors. Before you start off half-cocked in search of a board position, ask yourself these questions:
  • Why do I want to do this?
  • What does it really require?
  • How do I get invited?
 
Why: If you have a grandiose vision of what serving as a board member can do for you and your career, you might doom your efforts at the outset. Relatively few directors attain the highest level of national or worldwide visibility and influence, and virtually none of them does it without expending considerable effort and forethought.
 
What: Here are a few categories you’ll need to consider to assess your prospects for success:
  • Leadership: You should have several years of executive experience.
  • Industry experience: Some board invitations are based on the need for background in a particular industry or field.
  • Expertise: Financial and social media skills are increasingly in demand these days, although they’re not the only desirable qualifications. Other areas could include legal and human resources.
  • Relationships: It’s the old “who you know” situation. What connections have you established that could benefit the organization?
  • Diversity: Boards often need to represent a diverse constituency. If you can bring a strong element to that, you might have an edge.
  • Time: Serving as a board member is not a sinecure. You will almost certainly have to do a lot more than appear as a name on the roster. Service will probably require a significant amount of time and energy.
 
How: You have several options to consider and might want to adopt more than one approach to increase the odds of achieving your goal. Possible steps include the following:

For-profit or non-profit? While obtaining a position on a non-profit board of directors is sometimes considered easier than a for-profit position, it’s not a snap and doesn’t automatically make you a strong candidate to obtain a for-profit board membership. One suggestion for overcoming this hurdle involves getting to know individuals on a non-profit board that also serve or have served as members of for-profit boards.
 
If you’ve gotten this far without giving up, you might have a reasonable shot at landing your first position as a corporate board member.
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Georgia Adamson
This article was written by Georgia Adamson,
MRW / ACRW, of BlueSteps Executive Career Services (BECS) and A Successful Career (www.asuccessfulcareer.wordpress.com). Georgia has served senior executives globally since 1993. Through intensive one-on-one consultations, Georgia helps executives uncover their strengths and highlight their most meaningful career accomplishments to position them for their next executive opportunity.



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