Joining a Board of Directors

A former colleague recently reached out to me with the following question:

"I'm interested in getting board experience but am not sure where to start. I've served on a local non-profit board but wondered if you have suggestions for finding opportunities to serve on company/corporate boards?"

Like many, this person is senior with many years of experience and is likely planning their exit into semi-retirement. For people in this position, Boards can be an attractive way to ratchet back from a full time commitment while remaining active, productive and hopefully making some money. For most, it is also part of fulfilling a desire to lend their accumulated experience and give back to the corporate community.

Unfortunately, the Board experience may not be the panacea that it seems to be on the surface. There are lots of reasons for this, ranging from CEO's or Founder's that don't value or listen to their Board to just bad companies that don't deserve the investment of good Board resources.

So, for what it is worth, here is an edited version of my advice to them. My comments are based on my observations with private, tech start-up companies.

My experience is that most Board positions come through either your network or an introduction by a 3rd party who is connected and trusted by both the Company and you. Sometimes, the connection is through VC's, Angel investors, or Auditors so make sure you establish your network to include them.  I would agree that that based on your background, your strongest fit would be with a small private software or boutique professional services company that is looking to add operational advice by bringing talent onto their Board.

A few things to watch for:

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