Network Mapping Your Way Onto a Board

Written By:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Founder & CEO, Women Get On Board Inc.

Joining a board is about fit and style. The Board wants to make sure that your style will fit in. To help them decide, think about your network and how you might be connected to any one of the Board members. This is what I call “network mapping.” Use your network to map how you might be connected to members of the Board. The more connections you have to the Board, the more comfort they can get on how you will fit in. Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions!

To help you map your network, it is important to understand who can help connect you to a board opportunity. Your network can be broken into the following groups:

Decision Makers: these are individuals that will make the final decision on who will join their board. These include: board members, in particular, the Chair of the Board and Chair of the Nominating Committee.

Connectors: Connectors make change happen through people. These are individuals that will connect you to board members, CEOs and Executives of a company you would like to serve on. Examples may include: Lawyers, Accountants and other professional service firms and thought leaders. Refer to my blog post: “Are you a Connector?”

Mentors: Mentoring is about advising. These are individuals that inspire others in achieving their best and find joy in encouraging them to make a difference. For more on mentors, please refer to my blog post:

Sponsors: Where mentoring is about advising, sponsoring is about acting. Sponsors are typically Executive Sponsors inside your company. They are willing to put your name forward for board opportunities. Sponsors may also be individuals you have worked with in the past who believe in you. When you are looking for a sponsor, remember that it is a two-way relationship based on mutual respect and trust. You both need to be invested. Your sponsor is putting their name on the line by championing you, so you need to follow through with their advice and work hard to keep your sponsor’s good reputation intact. For more on Sponsors, see my blog post: “The Power of Sponsoring”:

Organizations: Think about the organizations you are affiliated with, your alma mater, not-for-profits, professional organizations/associations and member based organizations (like-CPA Canada, CBA, GPC etc.) and how you can leverage these organizations.

Network mapping your way onto a board is an ongoing process-that you need to be strategic in connecting to your network. To your networking!

How to Promote Yourself Online


Social media is growing and you need to think about how you build your personal brand online. Whether you are an experienced (and emerging) Corporate Director, it is a good way to find opportunities and make connections. Today, being online is a relevant way to promote yourself and showcase your accomplishments!

On February 18, 2016, Women Get On Board held our first event of the year, supported by our first Event Partner, Welch LLP. Our speakers; Josée Morin, entrepreneur and bilingual Corporate Director, Deborah Rosati, Corporate Director and Co-founder, Women Get On Board, and Susan Varty, Co-founder, Digital Strategy and Personal Branding, Women Get On Board, shared their experiences and tips on how to use digital media to promote yourself online.

Benefits of being active online

You need to be visible and stand out online to get noticed for potential board opportunities. Using social media is a great way to get recognized and showcase your expertise online. It is a great platform to blog about topics relevant to your field, or comment on other articles to showcase your thought leadership. Even if you are not a writer you can always hire an editor to professionalize your content.

How to showcase your board work and expertise online

  • Use LinkedIn as a source of information and follow individuals who share content you find interesting.
  • Comment on articles written by people in your network and other thought leaders.
  • Find information about what matters to you and share it across your networks.
  • Use your website to keep your publications and board resume in one place.
  • Share your LinkedIn profile link with new and existing contacts.
  • Plan a schedule for sharing information at regular intervals.
  • Participate in LinkedIn group conversations and stay consistent with your personal brand.

To blog or not to blog

Blogging is a great option for those who like to write and can regularly produce engaging articles. Write about topics that you’ve spoken about or leverage materials that you’ve written in the past. Be mindful to avoid writing about things that are not relevant to your career/industry or don’t interest you, as this may come off as unauthentic.

A benefit of blogging is that all blog posts stay on your website, or LinkedIn profile, where people can read current and previous posts to get a full picture of your expertise and knowledge.  As a bonus, most online platforms have built in statistics tools that allow you to see which topics were of most interest to your audience. These tools help you be strategic as you plan future social media posts and communications.

Personal branding on and offline

Everything you write or say about yourself offline should be consistent across your social media. If you are seeking a board position, for example, be clear about what you are looking for and state that in your LinkedIn summary. Elaborate on what value you bring to the table and write a statement about what you want to do for the next phase of your career. (Being consistent also includes keeping your online presence up-to-date!)

7 tips for connecting online

  1. Collect business cards and connect with those people on LinkedIn.
  2. Engage people online and follow up with an email or in person (if appropriate).
  3. Before a meeting or initial call, review their LinkedIn profile to get a better sense of their skills and expertise.
  4. Post your comments, updates and articles when most people are online; lunch time, early morning, between 4 and 5 pm, and on the weekends.
  5. Arrange with people in your network to comment on and share each other’s articles.
  6. Check in on your digital channels once a day if you have the time. If you don’t have time to invest, then try to check in as often as you can.
  7. If someone you don’t know invites you to connect, see what connections you have in common and use that to create rapport. Once connected, thank them and see where the conversation goes.

Remember to…
Make your LinkedIn profile standout by talking about your personality and how you added value to various roles. If you hire someone else to write for you, ensure that your voice is authentic by proofreading approving everything before it goes out.

Popular digital media tools

LinkedIn–An excellent source to research industry trends, companies, organizations and people who you know or would like to connect with. LinkedIn is a must for your online strategy.

Twitter – Offers widespread exposure that enables you to easily share links back to your articles, and also share or “retweet” topics of interest to your own network. It takes time to develop a following, so be patient as you build up your audience.

Hootsuite – Scheduling posts ahead of time can be made easy with this tool that lets you line up content for platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and automatically releases them at specific dates and times you select. Be cautious about what you pre-program because some of them could turn out to be inappropriately timed due to world events.

Register for our upcoming workshop: Building Your LinkedIn Profile – Wednesday, June 15th, 2016.

Network, Network, Network


Networking can be a challenge. We picture going to events where everyone stands around making awkward small talk. In reality networking doesn’t just happen at designated events, networking is done all the time, online, at work and in your social life.

On June 10th we held our Network, Network, Network roundtable event with moderator Tamara Paton, Corporate Director and strategy consultant, and panellists Josée Morin, entrepreneur and bilingual Corporate Director, and Jennifer Bouyoukos, Vice President of Talent for ARGUS Software, who shared their insights on networking effectively.

Networking Tips

At events: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. In fact, ask the first question. Prepare and do some homework on the speakers and draft questions before you attend. You can also send a speaker an email in advance to introduce yourself and ask a question, which is always better than walking up cold.   Having a question prepared is also a great way to approach a group of people. If you don’t have a question then have an icebreaker like ‘you look familiar’ or ‘where do we know each other from?’ Be bold—if you see an empty seat at a table with people that you want to meet, go sit there. The worst that can happen is the person whose seat it is shows up.

Online: Invest in your social network. Whether you use LinkedIn, Twitter or other social media you are as relevant to your network as how visible you are. Connect in groups, with organizations and peers, ‘like’ articles, make comments and engaged others. It’s easy to start relationships and harder to keep them going, so find five key people in your network and keep in touch with them. If you are looking to set up in person meetings always tell people why you want to meet them.

Networking for Corporate Board Appointments

Corporate Directors need to network outside of “the old boy’s network” to expand their talent pool of prospective new board candidates and to gain diversity.  So what is the best way to use your network to get noticed to get on corporate boards?

First you have to have an area of expertise that boards are looking for like governance, finance, IT, HR or enterprise risk management. (A corporate board appointment is all about how you can add value to the company with your area of expertise.) Then decide what your entry plan is — are you looking to start by gaining a seat on larger boards, non-profit boards or on advisory boards?

Second, look in your network for people who are connected and ask for their advice on how to present yourself and where you should go to meet your goal. Your networking approach should always be focused on where you want to go next. If you want to join corporate boards in another city start working your network in that city.

Third, set up a meeting. But who do you call on? The chair? A board member that you have something in common with? Use LinkedIn to find out how you are connected to the board.  It’s easier to get a meeting through a warm introduction from someone you know.  Do research on the person you are meeting with and find out if you can connect on a personal level. Before you contact them make sure this board is where you want to be; if you aren’t passionate about it and there isn’t a connection then don’t pursue it.

Remember to take the long view with networking. Don’t expect conversations to benefit you right away. You have to preserve and be generous for your own sake knowing that it’s going to pay off in the future.