Joining a board is about fit and style. The Board wants to make sure that your style will fit in. To help them decide, think about your network and how you might be connected to any one of the Board members. This is what I call “network mapping.” Use your network to map how you might be connected to members of the Board. The more connections you have to the Board, the more comfort they can get on how you will fit in. Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions!
To help you map your network, it is important to understand who can help connect you to a board opportunity. Your network can be broken into the following groups:
Decision Makers: these are individuals that will make the final decision on who will join their board. These include: board members, in particular, the Chair of the Board and Chair of the Nominating Committee.
Connectors: Connectors make change happen through people. These are individuals that will connect you to board members, CEOs and Executives of a company you would like to serve on. Examples may include: Lawyers, Accountants and other professional service firms and thought leaders. Refer to my blog post: “Are you a Connector?” http://deborahrosati.ca/2015/06/are-you-a-connector/
Mentors: Mentoring is about advising. These are individuals that inspire others in achieving their best and find joy in encouraging them to make a difference. For more on mentors, please refer to my blog post: http://deborahrosati.ca/2015/03/the-power-of-mentoring/
Sponsors: Where mentoring is about advising, sponsoring is about acting. Sponsors are typically Executive Sponsors inside your company. They are willing to put your name forward for board opportunities. Sponsors may also be individuals you have worked with in the past who believe in you. When you are looking for a sponsor, remember that it is a two-way relationship based on mutual respect and trust. You both need to be invested. Your sponsor is putting their name on the line by championing you, so you need to follow through with their advice and work hard to keep your sponsor’s good reputation intact. For more on Sponsors, see my blog post: “The Power of Sponsoring”: http://deborahrosati.ca/2015/05/the-power-of-sponsoring/
Organizations: Think about the organizations you are affiliated with, your alma mater, not-for-profits, professional organizations/associations and member based organizations (like-CPA Canada, CBA, GPC etc.) and how you can leverage these organizations.
Network mapping your way onto a board is an ongoing process-that you need to be strategic in connecting to your network. To your networking!