Moving up the career ladder gets harder as you go higher. Competition for executive positions is fierce - you need every advantage to make it to the next level. Sitting on a board of directors is a smart way to differentiate yourself, and the experience gives you an opportunity to develop valuable skills. However, earning a board seat carries its own set of challenges. These five steps are your roadmap to success:
Securing a place in the boardroom starts with your personal brand. In addition to your skills and experience, decision makers want to know what you are all about. Make sure your online presence offers a favorable impression, from your in-depth knowledge of the business to your passion projects. Publish an article, share photos and promote the nonprofit where you donate time and resources. Show the qualities that set you apart from your peers, and demonstrate how they will add value to a Board of Directors.
No matter where you are at in your career, there is something you know or do better than anyone else. Perhaps you led an unusual project or developed expert-level knowledge of a particular industry, operation or type of business. Showcase this specialized experience as you promote your personal brand, illustrating the rare value you bring to the table.
Before you begin your search, spend time considering what type of company suits you. Don't approach the process with the willingness to accept anything you are offered. Instead, consider the businesses that inspire you. Do you have secret dreams of becoming an entrepreneur? Sitting on the board of a startup could be a good fit. Create your wish list, and target your search to organizations that meet your criteria.
The hardest part of this process is locating a company currently interested in bringing on new board members. These positions are rarely advertised in any public way, which means networking is critical. Ask the individuals in your circle about availability, and make connections inside organizations that meet your wish list criteria. Be prepared to search through targeted channels - for example, talent acquisition professionals who specialize in board memberships.
Once you locate an appropriate opportunity, it's time to make contact with the appropriate decision makers. Keep this short and to the point. Use a brief cover letter or email to highlight what you bring to the table, and include a copy of your resume for review. Finally, make sure that the last line of your correspondence advances the process. Ask for a meeting or request an invitation to forward your detailed bio.
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