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How Do You Develop to Become a Board Observer or a Board Member in a Company?

How Do You Develop to Become a Board Observer or a Board Member in a Company?

Question: I enjoyed your article on how to develop to become a Board Observer or a Board member. Would it be possible to share more cases including in the United States?

My Response: This is the original piece here . In the US, such opportunities exist. Social Capital, founded by Chamath Palihapitiya, did me a great favour when one of its startups, Brilliant, invited me for a two-day working visit in their Silicon Valley office. They read my article in Harvard Business Review, and reached out to me; I had joined Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and they flew me from Pittsburgh. That visit was impactful; there is a lot more you can do outside the classroom! It removed a veil on what a teacher could do in this world.

On getting opportunities, broadly, I will say that one of the first phases remains my webinality. Yes, when you write, people know what you know and how you think. In other words, there must be a mechanism for people to know what you know. That means giving people the opportunity to recommend you in your absence. 

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The following are some suggestions on how to build a professional online persona. It is establishing your web personality (webinality) to explain that person you are.

Presence: Open at least one social media or blog account.

Specialize:  Define an area of interest and build around it. A five-minute online search should reveal what you represent. You need to differentiate yourself and showcase your core skills and unique capabilities to potential hiring managers.

Accuracy: Always remember that once that post goes online, you may not control who sees it. If you lie on your accomplishments, your classmate or co-worker is just an IP address away from challenging it. Make it accurate – always, otherwise, you will destroy your persona.

Comprehensive: While blog should be short, once in a while, develop comprehensive articles in your field and post them online. It could mean expanding a class project you worked on, adding more contents, and fully proving your expertise. Half-baked contents will not take you too far.

Judgment: What you post or share online defines who you are. Your profile defines you – values, interests and reliability. For employers, they want reliable team leaders and you must not offer less in your web personality.

Vertical Integration: Seek to connect with people ahead of you professionally while building a horizontally network.

Generosity: Share and exchange good ideas. Invite people to your network and be generous to promote good ideas from others. Write professional reviews on books, journals and articles. In no distant time, people will reward you.

Policy Matters: If you are working, ensure you adhere to policies on using the company’s name online. There is a threat that you could be a source of data leakage that can hurt competitiveness. Your profile must not be another portrait of your employer – you must be wise to separate both, where necessary.

Continuity:  Professional online branding is a continuous work-in-progress that requires constant tune-ups of networks, contents and profiles. It must be constantly nurtured.

Do not think being excellent is the only element; you must make sure people know you know a “thing”. More so, even if you decide to contact some companies or CEOs for opportunities, if you have records which they can independently verify, quickly, via your blog, etc, on your capabilities, you will reduce the inertia on the decision making.

That said, please note that there are not many available Board Observer slots, and that means you must not be troubled if you cannot get a YES immediately. The key is to stay focused, and continue to showcase your capabilities. Over time, you will have a lot of invitations that you may not have time to accept. Good luck.

Connect Higher And Offer Yourself for a Board Observer Role, to Advance Professionally


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