What Board Service Is….And Isn’t

Posted October 18, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Networking Buzz

We’ve told you in the past how finding and joining a Board of Directors can not only enhance your career path, but build a stronger network, and it give you an opportunity to exercise your skills in a new area. Many Boards are recruiting now for 2013 members, and perhaps you’re interested in joining one. The Board I currently serve on in Chicago is in the throes of recruiting and I’m in the process of joining another Advisory Board as well, so we’re following up our past article with some additional information on what a Board of Directors is….and isn’t.

Serving on a Board of Directors is….

  • A terrific way to give back to an organization you care for and lend your business expertise to a staff that might otherwise not have your specific skill set.
  • Perfect if you want to grow your personal network. You’ll interact heavily with the other individuals on the Board, the staff of the organization, and perhaps other donors and interested parties. Because you’re a member of the Board of Directors, others on the periphery of the organization will look to you as a leader for information and ideas about the organization.
  • Generally a big commitment of time, and often money. Be prepared to set realistic expectations of what you can and cannot give.

Serving on a Board of Directors isn’t…

  • Something you use to build your resume. Sure, Board service looks great on paper. But if that’s the reason you’re attracted to it, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. If you’re just looking for a bullet point, you’re never going to be able to make a meaningful commitment to an organization.
  • For everyone. Board service is a delicate political process. You’re not a staff member, you’re not an equity partner, and sometimes you have to take a backseat to what is decided by others. If you’re the kind of person who has to have your hands in everything at all times, a Board might not be for you.
  • Something you can skip out on. Boards are usually quite good at making the time commitments for meetings reasonable – once every other month or a phone call in between. If you’re committing to a Board, you should ensure you won’t need to skip any of these meetings unless an emergency comes up.
  • About you. Repeat after me, “It’s not about me.” It’s about the mission of the organization, first and foremost. Do you want to be a champion for them truly and 100%? Then you should join.

Think carefully when joining a Board of Directors. You’ll know instinctively if it’s the right personality, time, and comfort fit for you. Listen to those instincts and follow your passions.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."