Situation: A CEO wants to build network of highly placed contacts. One method that she is considering is joining a not-for-profit Board. What are good organizations? Is it reasonable to expect a quid pro quo? How do you join a not-for-profit Board?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Do your homework. Find out what the most influential Boards are in your community. For example, the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce is very active and includes in its membership many very well connected people.
- Influential groups and boards will vary by community. In Silicon Valley, the Silicon Valley Association of Start-up Entrepreneurs (SVASE) is a good organization to consider. This and other Angel groups know small companies that need help. Others include the Sand Hill Angels and the Asian-American Multi-Technology Association. In other communities Chambers of Commerce or similar organizations are the movers and shakers.
- Don’t count out Rotary, Lions, and similar organizations. All these organizations are struggling to recruit new members and some have movers and shakers.
- Rather than thinking about the meetings, volunteer to join a committee. For example, volunteer to join the Finance Committee. Once the members get to know you, you may be invited to join the Board.
- Raise money for an organization, this will bring invitations to join the Boards of other organizations.
- Follow your passions in selecting an organization, you will be more enthusiastic.
- It is reasonable to expect a quid pro quo? Yes, if you make a significant contribution and demonstrate your competence.