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Building your Board Portfolio...Myths and Tips “Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. Know what I mean?”

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Myth 4...It is ALL about ‘who you know’ that gets you a board seat.

In this article let’s look at the facts behind the view that it’s all about who you know, not what you know, that gets you that board seat.

It is definitely not all about who you know that gets you a board seat in the vast majority of cases for ASX listed companies, it is somewhat the case with a number of the Government boards and more so the case with many of the Charities. BUT; even those cases where who you know does have an influence it is very rarely THE reason you are offered a role on a specific board.

Having said that ‘who you know’, or rather less contentiously, ‘your network’ is extremely important in being considered for a board role.  Your network, amongst others, includes your peers, your bosses, your mentors, clients and search firms. Being known to at least one of those groups, assuming they have some connection with a specific board, will undoubtedly increase your odds of being on a ‘long list’ for consideration.  There is nothing nefarious about this…it is how human beings tend to work. We are more comfortable interacting with people we know or have been referred to us by people we know…there is an actual, or implied, level of trust.

BUT; and it is a big BUT…you still need to have the attributes and skills that the Board is looking for and even more importantly the other board members need to feel that you are a ‘good fit’. That you will be culturally similar enough to be an active contributor without alienating your fellow board members for the next 8-10 years.

On a final note
Who you know IS an important contributor in being considered for a board role BUT is not enough…your cultural fit and capabilities are every bit as important. Prepare well and do not rely on your ‘inside track’ to get appointed.

In the next article, I’ll offer four tips from sitting Chairs about what you can do to build your portfolio. 

To build your portfolio apply the 4 Ps:
Pragmatic, Planned, Persistent and Professional.

Graham Willis

Catch up on all the articles in the series.

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by Graham Willis