Norwest recently hosted an event with theBoardlist in our San Francisco office. We had the opportunity to share our space with some amazing female founders and executives for a day of informative and interactive working sessions to help women prepare for board service. We covered topics including the board search process, interviewing, compensation and negotiating, executive presence, and stories about navigating the boardroom once you’re in.

Shannon Gordon, CEO of theBoardlist, kicked off the event with an overview of the landscape of women on boards and how the process works. She also shared some valuable tips on how to start looking for a board opportunity. Here are the 5 key pieces of advice she offered to attendees:

Attendees also got to learn from a panel of incredible executives who discussed their experiences joining boards and what to expect once you’re on a board. The panelists included:

Here are some of the highlights from the panel discussion:

How did you know you were ready for a board seat?

Allison: “I had already been exposed to the concept of a board. I hope to be CEO someday.”

Anndria: “I didn’t know. I was speaking at an event and someone came up to me and asked if I would consider a board position. That person said, ‘if we had to write (a description of) what we wanted that’s exactly what you have.’”

Glo:?“I’ve been ‘board-curious’ for a while.”

How did you get started?

Allison: “Finding a board seat is different than finding a job. It’s more like dating – you need to create a halo effect about yourself. Kind of like inbound marketing instead of outbound. Let your community know you’re interested. I was lucky to have a great sponsor in our CEO. He referred me to my first board seat. ‘Doing great at your job’ and generating results and making sure people around you are supportive and developing strong expertise in a certain area is important.”

Anndria: “I expected these interviews to feel more like a job interview. So much of it was about board dynamics. It was loosely structured about getting to know the other board members and sharing my ideology.”

What has surprised you about being in the boardroom?

Glo: “My strength is building and scaling a global sales team. Now I’m on the other side of the table asking the team to back-up their pipeline. I thought I was going to be quiet on the first meeting. I was the only operator on the board so I brought a different perspective and street cred.”

Anndria: “Once you’re on a board all of these other opportunities will come. I am now referring other people to boards. I like to think I’m bringing more diverse candidates into the market.”

Allison: “In the board context, you need to think through which forums do you use to get your point across. Is it a 1:1 conversation with the CEO? Should you bring it up during open session? Closed session?”

We closed the panel with some good advice for the attendees in the room:

Allison: “It’s not always clear what success looks like. It’s not always clear if you’re doing well. It’s important to check in with the chairman or the CEO. Have your own scorecard for yourself.”

Anndria: “Know your value and bring it strongly.”

Glo: “It’s valuable to get some training. Check out Directors Academy, theBoardlist, and University Director College programs.”

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