By The Athena Alliance
Seasoned board director, advisor, and GTM and sales executive Kelly Wright recently led Athena members in a discussion to learn the best practices to achieve their first board seat. The 10 steps she provided offered an inside glimpse at her experience as a sales leader gaining her first board seat (she now holds four board seats and advises three more.)
Read a sampling of her recommendations below. Athena members can view the full recording in the Resource Library.
- Know your personal mission. What is your personal North Star? When you’re looking for a board, remember your personal mission to guide you in crafting your story and pursuing the right companies that align with your passion.
- Craft your board bio. Your board bio is very different from an executive resume. It tells your mission and your story in the third person, highlighting your personal value add to the boardroom including strengths and areas of expertise. Use key phrases like “leadership transformation,” “growth,” “profit and loss,” “global strategy,” “finance,” and “information technology” to be relevant in the modern boardroom. You can even add links and other elements that communicate your value, such as the speeches you’ve given or articles you’ve published.
- Build your plan. This search will be much more difficult than getting an executive position. When pursuing a board seat, you must act with intention. Taking these steps then sitting back and waiting for a headhunter to call you isn’t enough. Make a specific plan and execute it, including networking opportunities, relationship building, continued learning, and board education.
- Make yourself known. The next step is to get people to notice you. Kelly called everyone she knew who was on a board (whether private, public, and non-profit) to inform them that she was looking for a board seat. She then met with every venture capitalist she knew. Engage in public speaking (such as CEO forums, CFO forums, and go-to-market panels). Stay active on LinkedIn and other professional networks, posting thought leadership and offering board-relevant insights to your connections. (Kelly spent a lot of time commenting on people’s posts about sales, scaling, and strategy.)
- Have patience. Getting on a board takes a long time. The CEO doesn’t stay awake at night wondering who will fill his open board position; their operational needs will always take priority. With public boards only meeting once per quarter, the journey to your first board seat can be lengthy—even for the most highly qualified women.
Athena Virtual Salons offer members the opportunity to learn boardroom and leadership best practices. Cultivate your strength as a leader and connect with other women executives by joining Athena.