What it Takes to Grab a Seat at the Table - WomenInRevenue.org Event Recap!
Just last week, WomenInRevenue.org, had its first event, “Say Goodbye to All Male Boards - What it Takes to Grab a Seat at the Table.” The event, which sold out in under 2 days, was a huge success and we look forward to more events in the future!
If you don’t know already, WomenInRevenue.org is a non-profit started just last year by female B2B tech sales and marketing professionals (including myself) who are passionate about elevating women at all levels and through mentorship, education, and networking. Our mission is to drive diversity and inclusion for women in the C-Suite and beyond.
At the event, we had a panel of amazing women who all are members of a board - or multiple boards! They included Stacey Bishop, Partner at Scale Venture Partners, Julie Castro Abrams, founder of How Women Lead, and Meagen Eisenberg, CMO at MongoDB. All three women gave very honest feedback about how to get on a board and for those of you who missed it, I want to summarize of few of the important points you missed!
Make it known you want to be on a board
Meagen Eisenberg made a great point that if being on a board is your goal you want to make sure your network, which you should work on broadening, knows you are interested in being on a board. One great suggestion she made for dipping your toe into the water is by advising.
While you are advising for a company, they can see how valuable you are but it also gives you the chance to let them know you are interested in being on a board. Then, if there is ever an opportunity that comes up, they will know you know the business and that you are interested. Also, by letting your network know you are interested, they may know other executives who are looking for a new board member and then suggest you.
However, having these connections for advisement and networking requires work building your network - Meagen suggests leveraging any networking opportunities you can fit in and always scheduling a coffee, lunch, or dinner meeting when you can.
Be selective to your strengths, but open to any opportunity
It became clear across all three panelists, that once you get onto a board, it can be easier to get more board opportunities. This can seem a bit counterintuitive and disheartening when we are just trying to get on one board, but all the women suggested you build your experience of getting on any board you can first, including potentially the board of a non-profit, and then you will have more opportunities to join boards of other companies where you can be more selective. However, if you do get an offer for your first board position and it doesn’t feel right or you don’t feel like you will provide any value at all, it may make sense to just say no, as board positions can last many years - often longer than an actual full-time position tenure.
It takes a lot of work
Without question, it was clear that in order to get on a board it does requires quite a bit of work. Julie Abrams explained some of the processes involved with getting on a board including building a board profile, creating board specific resumes, building your brand, interviewing, and of course networking. This level of work requires dedication and motivation but doing it right is the key to getting placed on a board.
Boards are looking for specific expertise
The best and easiest way to be targeted for a board without having to shell out thousands to agencies who help place you is by focusing on being great at your specific expertise and highlight it. Today, many CEOs are looking for professionals with specific expertise to place on their board, so being well known for your expertise in a particularly sought after areas like digital marketing or go-to-market strategy will help you be recognized for potential interviews and placement.
Find your support group
As we develop our careers and our personal lives, things tend to get very BUSY. We have so many different roles like partner, mother, sister, and leader that fight for our time, which often makes juggling work, let alone being on a board, seem daunting. One great piece of feedback shared during the panel from both Stacey and Meagen was to find your support group.
This may be friends, family, fellow moms at school, or even your handy apps like Rinse, DoorDash, and Amazon Prime. Try to find the help where you can but also give back in return. Know a fellow mom who stays at home and picks your kids up from school? Let her know that you will host a sleepover or dates on the weekend so she can enjoy some alone time on the weekend. Or, if your husband picks up the task of making dinner a few nights a week, reward him with a free afternoon to go enjoy his hobby. Getting the extra help where you can will free up the time you will need.
I hope that helps you understand a little bit more about the process. Also, if you haven’t already, head over to WomenInRevenue.org to sign up to be a member. It’s free and you will be alerted of future events and our upcoming mentorship program!