With a heightened focus to expand your professional brand and increase your leadership skills, it is not uncommon for mentors to suggest you join a board of directors or committee. These additional opportunities may provide you with leadership experience that may not otherwise be available in your current full-time position.
Although many people may lead you to believe that these invitations are readily accessible, most may find that these desired opportunities take time, sponsorship and a strategy.
As part of my next book, “Accelerating Your Impact! Action-Based Strategies to Pave Your Professional Path,” hitting bookshelves this summer, I was encouraged to include a chapter on gaining leadership experience as a director or committee member.
Through my research, I learned valuable considerations from local professionals when approaching these additional opportunities.
1. Know how much time you have. It takes time to contribute to meaningful initiatives. Each of these professional goals often has a place in your timeline but having clarity and purpose with what commitments you make at certain stages in your career is vital.
2. Build a path. If jumping directly into your desired board seat does not happen within your timeframe, consider joining a committee. This could give you insight into the inner workings of the board while allowing you time to identify sponsors to help you position for a future board seat if you desire.
3. Enhance your skills. Many communities have resources and training to create productive and rewarding leadership activities. In Northeast Ohio, professionals can work with Business Volunteers Unlimited, an organization that has made more than 2,500 nonprofit board matches. BVU’s board matching program helps professionals find the right nonprofit board where they can make a difference.
4. Be aware. Board seats rely upon commitments critical to the company that you serve. Companies look to you for your expertise, investment and perspective. If you offer your services as a board or committee member, you need to follow through with active participation, since many depend on you. If you are limited in time, but still want to help, schedule time with the executive director or president to identify mutually beneficial roles. A common rule of thumb: It is better to under promise and over deliver.
As I reflect on the insight above and my professional path as it related to board seats, it has been important for me to understand my ambitions, my available time and the goals of the organization to ensure there are reciprocal value and aligned outcomes.
With this upfront preparation, pursuing a board of director’s seat could be advantageous to your professional development, network and future trajectory. ●
JJ DiGeronimo is president at Purposeful Woman and TechSavvy Women