When it comes to gaining a seat on a board, your ‘brand’ can make the difference between being considered appointable or not. Further, having a brand that does not suggest you are a Non-Executive or desire to be appointed to a board can prevent opportunities even presenting themselves to you. As such, getting your brand right is probably the first thing you need to do when you decide to embark on your journey to a board career.
There is this thing called the ‘fundamental attribution error’. In essence, it means that ‘people tend to attribute people’s behaviour to their core character’ – people are going to ‘peg’ you one way or another. So, if your desire is to gain your first or a subsequent board appointment then it is critical that you are pegged appropriately. Many I speak to simply aren’t and their board aspirations suffer because of it. So ask your self, ‘how am I getting pegged?’ Are you seen by others as a: father, mother, son or daughter or a CEO, Lawyer, Accountant or a teammate, bird watcher or… as a non-executive director. If your desire is to gain a board appointment it is absolutely critical that people peg you in this light. Or, at the very least are aware of your aspirations.
People are going to frame or ‘peg you’ one way or another. If your desire is to gain a board appointment then you must craft your language, social media presence and supporting documents accordingly.
Whilst, branding is a buzz word we often hear in relation to marketing. Being appointed to a board is merely marketing yourself in such a way that a individuals and the Chair himself can see that you will be the best candidate to fill a specific role. For this reason, it is important that you spend time thinking about how you brand yourself as a non-executive director.
Being clear on your brand is core to writing your board profile. To do this and before you start, it’s important to understand what it is that boards want and how what you have to offer meets their requirements. Whilst writing a concise and effective board profile can be challenging being able to articulate what you have to offer is far more challenging and is of greater importance.
In short, you need to get your story straight. You must be clear on your brand. You must ensure that others peg you correctly. You must ensure your pitch yourself in a way that is attractive to boards. Above all, you must do all of this in a way that ‘de-risks’ your potential appointment.
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About the Author
David Schwarz is CEO & Founder of Board Appointments – The UK’s leading board advertising and non-executive career support firm. He has over a decade of experience of putting people on boards as an international headhunter and a non-executive recruiter and has interviewed over one thousand non-executives and placed hundreds into some of the most significant public, private and NFP roles in the world