This is a leader's guide to cyber board positions. If you're looking to achieve a seat on the board of a notable company, then it pays to prepare. Take steps to increase your chances of success. This article will elaborate on our top eight tips for getting that coveted position. From the importance of networking and building relationships to staying up-to-date on industry trends – these tips will provide valuable insight into what to do next.
1. Networking in Cyber Is Key
You likely already know a leader at a company with a strong board. Broaden your network by attending industry events and maintaining consistent contact. Connecting with other professionals in the field will help create opportunities for you.
Action Item: Reach out to 5-10 of your cyber current connections — people you’ve either met in person or have a consistent relationship with — and ask them to introduce you to someone on their board so you can learn more about how their careers led them there. Keep it casual but professional.
Pro Tip: Under no circumstances use the phrase “pick your brain.” Instead, try “Learn from your experience.” Always be as specific as possible with the questions you ask.
2. Develop Your Personal Brand
Board members need to understand the value and expertise you bring. Publish consistent articles on your website or LinkedIn and engage in thought leadership. Such activities will go a long way toward getting noticed.
Action Item: Get involved in your community. Find a local public board meeting that you can attend and introduce yourself to the current members and share your cyber knowledge.
Pro Tip: You don’t need to be an influencer to be influential. Engage in the conversation — whether or not it’s on a public platform. It could be LinkedIn, Twitter, an email response to the author of an article you read, or a good old-fashioned Zoom coffee date.
3. Understand Business Acumen
Build a solid foundation in business principles and finance — how do they relate to cyber? Ensure you understand key metrics such as top-line revenue, EBITDA, and cash flow statements. These often appear in interviews.
Action Item: Educate yourself. Even if you already have some awareness, make a point to stay informed. An online course, articles by thought leaders, or mentorship will keep you sharp and help with your networking goals.
Pro Tip: Not all boards are identical. Do your research to know exactly the kind of financial knowledge you might need to sit on a particular company’s board. (Ask one of your new contacts from Tip #1 for pointers.)
4. Get involved in Governance
Experience counts when sitting on boards. Consider joining nonprofit groups or serving on committees to learn governance structures. This will give you practical insight into your candidacy and help you stand out from other applicants.
Action Item: List 3-5 nonprofits in your area that captivate your interest. Reach out to members and ask how you might become involved in their organization.
Pro Tip: Nonprofits can be stressful, so make sure you don’t only involve yourself for involvement’s sake.
5. Understand What's Expected of Cyber Leaders on Boards
It helps to know what’s expected from these roles. Boards must predict threats and risks early on, so strong problem-solving skills are most beneficial.
Action Item: Read 1-3 articles per week on some of the most successful boards and what makes them so.
Pro Tip: Know what you’re talking about and be able to make thoughtful and unpatronizing recommendations.
6. Keep Up-to-Date on Industry Trends
Learn about what will impact your goal companies. Can you explain why they need a cyber perspective? Your awareness will show you know what's happening around you and help separate you from the pack.
Action Item: Seek out articles to read and subscribe to informative digital platforms and/or magazines.
Pro Tip: Join three appropriate and active LinkedIn groups.
7. Prepare for Your Interview
When interviewing for a board position, understand the data and how it will serve your vision. Think about how you can contribute to the company's future success. Make sure that this comes across in everything from your body language to articulate your ideas.
Action Item: Have a practice session with a friend where they ask you sample interview questions.
Pro Tip: All this said, don’t overprepare. You want to be comfortable and knowledgeable but not stuffy.
8. Be Patient
Landing yourself a coveted seat on a star company’s board doesn't happen overnight. When facing repeated rejections or stalled applications, it takes dedication, self-awareness, and consistency.
Change failure into hope as soon as possible. If one board doesn’t click with you, another one likely will! Finding an excellent board seat takes dedication and resilience – but by following this leader's guide to cyber board positions, we hope you find yourself at least one step closer to success.
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How to Be a Good Board Chair by Stanislav Shekshnia for the Harvard Business Review
How Much Board of Directors Members Get Paid and What They Do by Amy Fontinelle for Investopedia
Why Employee Engagement Starts Before You Think it Does by Domini Clark for Forbes