Many seasoned executives set their sights on the next “role” of their career: a corporate board appointment. In our previous blog posting, we discussed the self-reflection and networking needed to land a board position.
In this blog posting, we’ll explore three different marketing materials you may need to land your “audition” — a meeting to discuss a board appointment.
Ronit Molko, PhD, BCBA-D, a healthcare consultant and board member, states how important this step in your search is.
“Securing a board role requires a solid networking and communications strategy that achieves several things. It must showcase your strengths and expertise that are in line with the company you want to serve; demonstrate how you connect your strengths to that organization’s governance and regulatory needs; and convey your leadership traits. Your marketing approach is as essential as the unique experience and talents you will bring to this role.”
Read on to secure a top role!
Here are three items to prepare:
- The Elevator Pitch. Ed Stautberg, the Managing Director of PartnerCom and On Board BootCamp, says that 80% of board roles come from networking, not recruiters. It is important to be able to explain to others via a 30 second elevator pitch that you are seeking a board seat.
Valuable nuggets to include in your elevator pitch are:
- Any relevant board work. In her pitch, Cindy Steiner, President of Steiner International Communications, shares that she’s served on several non-profit boards, one of which owned a large investment fund.
- Numbers and names. This would include any well-known companies where you have experience, and any specific accomplishments that can be quantified. In Cindy’s elevator pitch, she writes: “I’ve helped my clients raise over $1 Billion in fund-raising rounds, IPOs and M&As.”
- Global experience. –This shows that a prospective board member can effectively govern across different cultures.
2.Board Biography. This piece is the single-most crucial marketing piece you’ll submit for a board role, so make sure it is professional and impressive. Paula Asinof of Yellow Brick Path Consulting, a career coaching company describes this tool “as a ’personal press release’ [it] provides a vehicle for displaying executive presence and standing out from the crowd with polish and pizzazz.”
Asinof reveals that board members skim the bios in meetings very quickly, so the salient features must jump out to the reader. Also, the Bio is likely the only item reviewed, so Board hopefuls should not send additional e-mails or attachments. They will most likely not be read.
A Board biography should, like any good bio, tell a story. As you prepare this piece, think what might make someone excited to meet you and “see you audition.” The Board Bio should also convey the unique value that you offer. Position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, and highlight relevant functional expertise or valuable relationships, says Asinof.
Boards look for previous board experience, so it’s important to include any board background you have, including on a non profit board. Plus, awards, media coverage or publications can help set you apart from other board candidates.
Regarding the “nuts and bolts” of the Board Bio, Asinof recommends a length of about 350 words. It should be written in the third person, as a typical biography would be. A professional headshot adds to your brand. Along with it will be your tag line. “The goal of this section is to describe the executive with laser focus such that his or her value is grasped immediately by the reader,” writes Asinof.
Prospective board members may often emphasize leadership qualifications in their bios, whereas governing skills are most relevant to a board seat. “Based on my experience working with Board candidates on their bios, the greatest challenge for them is shifting their perspectives from a leadership role to a governance role,” says Asinof. In other works, it is not enough to possess leadership experience; Boards want to know that their new members will govern strategically.
3. Resume. If you choose to submit a resume, make sure it is board-focused — and highlights skills that your prospective board may be seeking. Your resume should not merely highlight leadership experience. All actors tailor their resumes specific to the “roles” they want.
However, a resume is not always required by nominating committees, so it may not be necessary to prepare one specifically for every board post.
With time and effort, marketing yourself for a board seat can be a worthwhile endeavor resulting in success — a “starring role” on a corporate board. Think of it as an extension of your corporate brand, specifically tailored to a board seat, and watch your opportunities multiply.