Just like beginning your search for new employment, the search for a board seat also takes planning, research, and patience. However, unlike employment searches where there are several resources at your fingertips like recruiters, job boards and Glassdoor type insights, the boardroom is a much more private arena. And for women, there is another layer added to their boardroom journey which requires breaking down a 100+-year-old male-dominated wall, where (still) only 17% of all board seats are currently held by women.
theBoardlist’s goal is to change that.
By becoming the technology platform connecting open board seats with qualified, ready and committed female board candidates, theBoardlist aims to help all boards achieve better performance through diversity and open the door to female executives who might not have otherwise been given a seat at the table. We’ve spent the last 4 years committed to helping female executives break down that wall and in the process gained invaluable knowledge for what all female leaders with the goal of becoming a board member should do for a successful journey in 2020.
#1 Set Your Expectations
Like most goals worth working hard for, patience truly is key and this journey can be a long one. Keep these expectations in mind during your search:
- Filling a board seat is a long process - There is typically not any sense of urgency or even transparency into filling a board seat as there would be for a hiring committee. Some boards take years to backfill a position, so patience is key.
- Boards typically hire within their network - The current status quo for filling board seats is to lean on current board member referrals and while theBoardlist is actively changing that archaic process, networking and patience are again keys.
- It typically takes 2 years from board search to board appointment - Keeping this timeline in mind will significantly help you along the way.
- Holding a VP level or above title is often a minimum requirement - While you do not have to be at C-level, boards do prefer seasoned senior executives running multi-million dollar businesses, but as you’ll see in the proceeding tips, it’s all about how you tell your story.
#2 Make An Investment
Just like the investments you’ve made into your career, there are key investments you’ll need to make to prepare yourself for a board seat as well. We suggest tackling all 4 of these right away:
- Invest in your mentor relationships- Continuous learning and keeping an open mind goes far beyond your journey to a board seat, but is another investment we’ve always seen pay off. Finding a member of your current company's board of directors to speak to is a great starting point.
- Invest in networking opportunities - Situated right below public speaking on the list of top professional fears are networking events. Our rule of thumb, plan to attend at least 2 per quarter and plan far ahead. Take time to review your 2020 calendar now, pick the 2 events per quarter you think will be the best suited towards your goals (ask your coach/mentor) and lock them in. Inevitably you will be presented with more opportunities, but knowing you have a solid 8 events dedicated to professional networking this year will allow you to say “no thanks” with ease and confidence that you’re using your time as best and focused as possible.
- Invest in your social media presence - Curating your social media presence is a smart move, and yes, another investment of your time. This is where you can begin to craft your personal thought leadership campaign. Proudly display your new headshot, socialize your time with your coach/mentor, share about the events you attend, connect online with the people you meet along the way and write meaningful content (quality over quantity!).
- Invest in a professional headshot - More often than not, your first impression is of an online profile (theBoardlist, LinkedIn, etc), so taking the time to get an updated and professional headshot to use across all platforms can be the difference between being taken seriously and being passed over. It will also be used in your announcements when you land the board seat!
#3 Define Your Personal Brand
We’ve heard from countless candidates in our community that taking the time to really dig into their successes, expertise, leadership style and career goals was a daunting and confusing task at first. It is extremely uncomfortable and foreign (especially for women) to promote themselves. Leave that mindset in the past and make 2020 all about YOU.
- Understand & Articulate Your Unique Story - This will require assistance, be it a professional coach, mentor, group of trusted colleagues or attendance at professional branding workshops. Starting with your resume to build your unique and memorable personal brand.
- Emphasize In-Demand Skills - You have a laundry list of superpowers, but strategically consolidating your list to 5 - 7 skills that are most in-demand, unique and aligned to your story will be key.
- Be Aware of Your Online Presence - Ensure your LinkedIn profile, social media brand, personal website, and other professional bios are all telling the same story and highlighting the same accolades, skills, and headshots.
- Consider an Advisory and/or Non-profit board seat - This time will translate into key resume builders, invaluable experience and expanding your sphere of influence as you work your way towards a corporate board seat.
#4 Audit Your Existing Commitments
Board seats typically require 2-3 days per quarter for meetings, plus extra time on your own research, reading, and education. Some of the hardest questions you’ll need to answer while on your board seat journey will be around the time you are actually willing and able to commit to it. You already have your career, family, social life, personal time and personal goals to juggle. Can you realistically carve out the additional time required to fully commit to a board seat?
#5 Join theBoardlist
Join today. Joining our premium talent network where companies discover exceptional women for global board opportunities is a simple yet powerful next step you can take today. Once a member of our thriving community you will receive updates on openings, board readiness tips, insights into current events affecting the boardroom and direct advice from our CEO, Shannon Gordon, on how to continually work towards your goal of landing a board seat.