Playing the "long game" of networking to earn a board seat

Landing your first board director role is often a multi-year effort. Be prepared to expand the diversity of your connections while building your breadth of business experience.

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John Murray vividly recalls the first time he asked a recruiter friend about how he could get a seat on a public company board of directors. “He laughed me right out of the lunch,” recalls the former financial industry CIO, who most recently served as CEO of Paypro Corp. in New York.

The recruiter bluntly pointed out that Murray had zero board experience and was merely running technology operations for a division of a public company. “Why would I even consider you?” the headhunter wondered. Rather than taking offense, Murray took his friend's advice to look for board service opportunities among smaller, privately held companies instead of public ones. He eventually served on two private boards between 2012 and 2019.

Welcome to the “long game” of networking required to attain a board seat. It’s often a multi-year effort, relying heavily on establishing a base of experience and an ever-widening circle of senior business executive connections that lead to the right introductions.

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