4 Things To Help Prepare For Board Service

Provided by Alyssa Gelbard, Founder & President, Point Road Group

If pursuing a board seat is one of your professional goals, remember that board-relevant expertise and experience alone won’t automatically attract opportunities. Here are 4 things to do now to make you an attractive and visible board candidate in the future. Note that these are in addition to creating a board resume (which is different from an operationally-focused one) and updating your LinkedIn profile to reflect your board-relevant experience and expertise.

1. Network wisely
One of the best ways to understand what it really means to be a director of a public or private company is to speak with current and recent directors. Reach out to those you know, and if you don’t know any directly, ask for introductions. Also seek out contacts who work directly with boards, like M&A attorneys, turnaround specialists, board advisors and private equity investors.
Beyond insights, talking to people is critical for hearing about and getting referred to opportunities. When networking, discuss why you’re interested in board service and what, specifically, you can bring to the boardroom. These should not be one-time emails or conversations – they should be ongoing conversations (especially because landing a board seat takes time).
2. Attend board events
Familiarize yourself with key topics, issues and challenges facing boards today by attending events run by organizations like the Private Directors Association, National Association of Corporate Directors and Women Corporate Directors. Board practices of leading accounting firms and law firms run highly beneficial board events as well. Not only will attending keep you informed and current, it will help you frame your unique value and experience to meet board needs and solve problems. Participation at board-related events is also essential for strategic networking and increasing visibility.

3. Gain relevant experience
Whether in your day job or a volunteer capacity, look for ways to gain and hone board-relevant experience. Raise your hand for opportunities related to strategic decision-making, risk management, governance, compliance, business expansion and compensation planning. Deepen industry expertise as well. To enhance your collaborative leadership record, pursue an executive role or committee chair position on a nonprofit or professional association board.

4. Get certified
Board certifications enhance credibility and augment executive experience, providing fundamental knowledge, skills and best practices of directorship. These credentials signal that you have a strong commitment to board service and leadership excellence. Well-regarded certifications are offered by many organizations, such as the National Association For Corporate Directors, Society For Corporate Governance, Harvard Business School, Wharton etc.

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