This is a question I get asked quite a lot – getting a foot on the Non-Executive Director ladder is difficult enough but it does not seem to get any easier once you have secured your first NED roles.
So how do you build on your NED, Governor or Trustee experience to create a Portfolio of NED roles?
The advice I always give is to start with your LinkedIn profile and look at what it says in your headline – that’s the strap-line that appears immediately below your name.
It doesn’t have to be your current or most recent job title, it could be something like “experienced Chair and Non-Executive Director” or “Independent Non-Executive Director” – something which most accurately describes your experience and what you have to bring to a board.
You may be one of the new breed of specialist NEDs so make sure that your headline contains your specialism such as “digital NED” or “sustainability NED”.
The next part of your LinkedIn profile to look at is the summary – make sure that every word earns its place in the one or two paragraphs which give a high-level overview of your skills, background and experience as a NED.
Make sure that the rest of your profile is complete and that your NED positions detail not only the type, size and sector of the organisation but also your role on the board, particularly if you were a member or chair of any board committees such as audit or remuneration.
Networking is a big part of securing your next NED role so it is a good idea to have some business cards printed which say the same thing as your LinkedIn headline and then get out networking and introduce yourself as a Non-Executive Director – the local IoD meetings are a good place to start but there are many other networks that are worth trying.
As there are usually many more NED candidates than there are jobs it is also a numbers game – so you will probably make a large number of applications and you will have to spend time on each one to make sure that you answer the questions posed in the job advert/specification and do some research on the organisation before writing your covering letter.
The increasing requirements for board diversity, whilst very welcome in terms of improving corporate governance, does mean that those of us who are “male, pale and stale” will have to work harder to be considered for new roles but if you take it seriously and spend time on your CV and covering letters then there is no reason why you cannot build a successful and rewarding NED portfolio.