It's a new year and new legislation entitled Companies Amendment Act 2014 requires all New Zealand registered companies from May 1 to have a director that lives in New Zealand or in Australia (who in this case must also be a director of an Australian incorporated company). This may likely increase demand this year for new company directors.
• Henri Eliot: Board papers demystified
• Henri Eliot: How do we get international boards?
The following are a few of my favourite tips on how can you brush up your director brand in order to secure your first or additional board appointments in 2015.
i. The best CV's from my perspective are reasonably brief. They are no longer than 3 pages and highlight your qualifications, non-executive and executive experience, followed by executive and other professional work experience.
You should also ensure that your CV is in synch with your LinkedIn profile, which often is not the case. If in doubt, hire a professional writer to edit and proof read your content.
ii. Networking 101. It's often helpful to revisit your contact list and focus on your deeper contacts versus superficial ones. Sincere networking and a focus on your interests will often attract the attention of board nomination committees. They are looking for "real" alignment between potential candidates and the purpose of the organisation. Candidates should think about what they can offer a board. Participate in networking events in order to meet existing directors.
iii. The best candidates will conduct their own due diligence before accepting any board appointment. These questions will cover strategy, financial sustainability, board and company culture, liabilities and insurance claims.
iv. It's also important to ensure that you have pre-approval from your company on whether you can accept an outside directorship. You should review your existing employment contract or board charter on your ability to accept a board position. Look out for potential conflict of interest as well.
v. Research the companies and boards that might be of interest. Consider your value proposition and the real value you may bring to a board or advisory board. Study the board and identify the skill set gaps that may be aligned to your current skill set.
vi. Ongoing professional development covering hot topics such as health and safety are helpful. In addition, professional training programs such as the Institute of Director's Company Directors Course provides a strong foundation to build upon in the future.
vii. Top-level executive search firms and websites such as appointbetterboards.co.nz are very helpful. Developing a few quality relationships with headhunters is a powerful way to potentially fast track your boardroom career.
viii. Using social media effectively is a powerful medium to help aspiring directors grow their brand. The key points are to build your online reputation by selecting the right platform (LinkedIn and/or a personal blog) then being pro-active on LinkedIn or twitter will also help in growing your network. A simple trick is to follow people of interest on twitter and re-tweet favourite tweets. You are now starting to build your on-line profile by getting noticed and showcasing your expertise to key influencers.
Finally, a word of caution, you must manage reputational risk by not accepting a directorship where the board is dysfunctional. It's important that the relationship between the board and the major shareholders is strong. You will never grow your board portfolio if your first appointment damages your professional reputation.
Do your research before accepting any board role.