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Building your Board Portfolio...Myths and Tips - Four More Top Tips from the Chair

In this article, I provide you with another four tips, from experienced Chairs, about practical steps you can take to build your NED portfolio.

  1. Let your network know that you are seeking NED roles.

Have you let the recruiters, referees, mentors and your broader network know that the NED path is an active choice you are pursuing? If you are not overt about your wish to contribute to boards, your network will not necessarily have you in mind as opportunities arise.

This is not the time to ‘hide your light under a bushel’.

  1. Go to a Networking event, coffee or catch-up with a clear purpose.

It sounds obvious because when we go to a meeting there is invariably an agenda of some sort. When we go to a networking event, catch up with a fellow director for advice or have a coffee with a Chair you have been introduced to we tend to be less structured. That’s fine to an extent BUT everyone is busy and we don’t all have time for a ‘chat’.

Go to each event with a clear idea of what you want to get out of it and explain that to the person, or people, you are meeting with.

As one Chair said, “I will catch up with anyone once...but only once if it really is a bit of a waste of time.”

  1. Gain some board knowledge

Have you made the investment to become educated about how boards operate? Have you taken the time to complete any AICD or Governance Institute education? Have you made the decision to contribute to a Not for Profit Board?

Apart from giving you some new knowledge, building out your network and potentially gaining some practical experience, it demonstrates your commitment to your NED career.

  1. Wear your emotional body armour.

Are you prepared for a lot of No’s and periods of frustration when things are not moving as quickly as you thought they would? Have you honestly undertaken all the work you need to do to start your board career?

Do not take a polite ‘no’ personally. See if you can gather information from the process and adjust for next time.

As one Chair said, on starting to build their NED portfolio, “I’d never had to pitch myself before. People had always approached me and the first 12-18 months of building a board portfolio was quite an adjustment.”

On a final note

Following on from the last article treat the process of building your portfolio in a disciplined and persistent manner and you will get more out of it.

In the next article, we will have a closer look at the myth of: If you are a mature male executive you won’t get a board role because they are all going to younger women now.

Graham Willis

Graham has been a Fellow of the Institute of Company Directors for over 20 years and leads the Board Practice at Watermark Search International.

A series of articles that look at some of the myths surrounding the building of a board portfolio and also provides some practical tips, from current Chairs, on how you might build your portfolio. 

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

In case you missed it, read thelastarticlein the series.

Read the rest of the series here.
Building your Board Portfolio Myth 5 - The NED Gender ‘Wars’
Building your Board Portfolio Myth 6 Part 2 - The NED Gender ’Wars’ (contd.)
Building your Board Portfolio Myth 7 - Government and NFP Boards ...Stepping Stones?
Building your Board Portfolio Myth 8 - I can have my cake and eat it!