Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Seat On The Board: Sooner is Better

Must be in the air … recently I’ve heard from a number of C-suite residents who aspire to be on a company’s Board of Directors after they retire.

Reasons given include intellectual stimulation, a new venture, the opportunity to add value and that old standby, financial reward. All are valid motivations.

However, joining a Board is an even better move if done long before you exit the corporate stage. It’s inordinately valuable to career advancement both in terms of experience and perception.

In fact, it’s a career “shaker” that can dramatically increase your worth and attractiveness in the marketplace.

Board membership is much more than a line on your resumé. The experience can broaden your business acumen, widen your horizons and expand your network. Opportunities can arise that otherwise would not. The potential is vast.

So, whether you’re thinking about retiring within the year or looking at another ten to twenty years in the workforce, if being a Board member sounds appealing to you … then go for it.

A note of caution, however: Membership is time-consuming and regulatory actions have increased liability exposure. While prestigious and advantageous to your career, being a Board member is definitely a job … you’ll be working more hours than you already do.

Forewarned and now forearmed:

As many execs find out, not only is Board membership demanding but getting that first seat can be daunting. In other words, easier said than done!

Most discover that it’s a lot simpler to get a seat on a local not-for-profit or small company Board than it is to join the Board of Directors of IBM. But it’s that first membership that builds credibility and becomes a springboard for more appointments.

Let others know of your interest. Prepare a “Board Seating Plan", identify and target relevant organizations, create a compelling “value add” pitch and initiate a campaign that includes specialized recruiters and selective networking.

Finally, be selective. You’ll be spending a good amount of time and energy on any Board, so make sure that the seat you get is a good fit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good point about joining sooner rather than later. The only problem I found from personal experience is not-for-profit orgs want you to do a lot of fundraising which is something else to consider if time is limited.

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