July 28th, 2021

Whether you’re eyeing a spot in the C-suite or looking to rise into the boardroom, your network is critical in reaching the next step in your career. The majority of board seats are still filled through the network of sitting board directors and executives, with search firms filling only 30% of open board seats.

So how can you develop your network strategically to advance your career goals? And once your network is in place, how do you leverage it when the time is right for you to pursue that next opportunity?

In her new guide to landing a board seat, Athena member Meg Crofton shared five quick tips to leverage your network for a board seat—tips that are broadly applicable to any stage of your career…

Five tips to cultivate your network

  1. Target your networking. Think through the ways you want to leverage your network and create different categories for the “types” of contacts you need.
  1. Cast the net wide and far. As the well-known theory states, you are within six degrees of separation from anyone on earth.
  1. Come to your network and make a specific ask. People generally want to help, but their to-do list is long and they need your specific ask in order to act. Rather than saying “Please keep me in mind for board openings you hear about,” get more specific. “I believe you serve on the board of ____, or know ____ who is a board member of ____, and I would really be interested in serving on their board… would you make an introduction for me?”
  1. Follow up. Show your appreciation with authenticity, and hopefully include something that helps them like a relevant article, introduction to a key contact, etc.
  1. Make consistent progress every week. Schedule time on your calendar and mark it as a high-priority task to stay on top of your networking strategy.

Want more networking tips?

Learn how Athena member Barbara Nelson created an intentional networking strategy to land her recent board appointment at Backblaze, and 8 networking “aha!”s she learned along the way.

In her Journey to the Boardroom series, Karen Cone reflected on how her “web of connections” led to a world of opportunities in the business world. And, she shares tangible tips to ask for an introduction and follow-up after the connection has been made.

Athena Alliance is the most powerful network of executive women, giving women leaders the learning, connections, and access to opportunity they need as they rise to the top. Learn more about membership here.



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