How to network your way onto a board

Networking is all about making connections with other people – and just like our parents told us when they sent us out into new social environments, the best way to make a real connection is to “just be yourself.”

However, the very idea of networking and forming new connections can be intimidating, even for the most social among us. But it’s also an essential tool for generating personal and professional opportunities, including vying for a spot on a board of directors.

Read about: So, you want to be on a Board of Directors?

Of course, it’s always easier to secure a meeting with someone if you have a warm introduction from a mutual connection, and the more networking you do, the more warm connections you’ll have to help you on your journey.

But how do you generate those warm connections? Well, this month we’re providing you with some basic information on how to generate contacts online, and in person.


Since the shift to remote work, it is more important than ever to invest in your online social network. Make sure to use LinkedIn and X (formerly and – frankly – still known as Twitter) to identify people you think can help you develop your skills. Ask them for a video chat to discuss their careers and get advice, and when asking for virtual meetings, make sure you’re specific about why you want to meet. Also, be sure to engage with their social posts and articles through comments and likes. And there are multiple other valuable ways to generate contacts online, including attending relevant webinars, participating in virtual networking events, and being active about cultivating your own social media presence.

At events (in-person or virtual)

At in-person or virtual events, one of the best ways to stand out is to ask relevant and well-researched questions. People love to engage about their expertise, plus you stand to learn something you didn’t know before. You can also reach out via email or LinkedIn to the speakers before or after an event. Once you’ve incorporated new connections into your network, you can make direct asks, such as, “I’m looking for a corporate board to which I could add value.” Be specific about the type of corporate board you’re looking for. Eventually, all your networking will pay off, and you will begin building a strong referral base for board opportunities.

Network mapping your way onto a board

After identifying a board opportunity, you can increase your probability of getting board interviews by employing a technique called network mapping. The key is to take a look at the existing members of the board you’d like to serve on, and identify if there is anyone in your network who could make an introduction. It goes back to warm connections, and the more connections you have, the easier it will be for the board to determine if you are the right fit.

You can read more about network mapping in Deborah Rosati’s blog post Network Mapping Your Way Onto a Board. For additional advice on networking, we also recommend this article from Women’s Agenda, Five Tips for Networking Your Way to a Board Career.