One of the best pieces of advice we can give to our members is to build your professional networks.  WOB is working hard to bring transparency to the board recruitment process, but the fact remains that appointments are still often made on the basis of recommendations, so networks are critical in landing roles. 

Research from Professor Herminia Ibarra, INSEAD Professor of Organisational Behaviour, has identified three types of networks that are important in business: operational, personal and strategic. "While a lot of managers excel at building and using their operational network, they often overlook their personal and strategic networks".  And it is these networks, particularly your strategic network, that will often play a crucial role in helping you find a board seat that matches your experience and aspirations.

Three tips for building your networks - Judith Perle
Judith Perle specializes in teaching people about networking – what it is, why it’s helpful, and how to do it better.  I believe that successful networking is as much about attitude as it is about specific skills. So while I can’t offer a quick fix, I can suggest some golden rules – below are three of them:

  • Nurture your network.  Even the most superficial relationships are based on trust, and that takes time to build. So stay in touch with people (one-night stands aren’t usually very productive) and re-establish relationships that may have fallen by the wayside. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or drop a line to someone you haven’t seen for years: someone has to make the first move!
  • Get out and about.  Go to events and conferences regularly and make a point of making new contacts. Talking to people you don’t know is generally more difficult than talking to people you do know but it’s also ultimately more rewarding as it expands your network and raises your profile.
  • Be interested (as well as interesting).  People generally love talking about themselves, and asking a few well-chosen questions has the interesting psychological effect of making you seem more interesting. So take an interest in other people and never, ever try to sell yourself.

Need some more help?

1. Networking is vital for successful managers according to Insead Professor Herminia Ibarra:  You can read the full article from Professor Ibarra here.

2. WOB Information Evenings:  WOB is a supportive network focused on helping women into board roles. The information evenings are perfect for people who have not previously attended a WOB event. They are short, friendly, casual and provide you with an overview of what WOB does as well as the chance to meet new people with a similar interest in the boardroom. You will find all our events in our Event Calendar.