Having a paid board position is a great way to make strategic decisions and influence important events while getting compensated to do so. However, getting such an appointment is no easy task. For the vast majority of non-profit organizations, board members are unpaid. Most Fortune 500 companies pay handsome stipends to board members, as do some smaller companies, schools and non-profits. Generally it is hard to find an open position that pays and even hard to get appointed.
Find organizations and businesses where you have something to offer. Review your resume. Then, find organizations that can be served by someone with your life experience. Boards do not advertise director positions on job sites, so to find openings you must network with organization insiders. If you do not know where to start, join a professional association in your field, attend a meeting and ask other members which organizations in the area are looking for new board members. Use the social network LinkedIn.
Network with shareholders, board members and executives with the organization or business. If you want to join a non-profit board, first join the organization, attend meetings and get to know other board members. Find the board member names on the organization's website and approach them at meetings. If you want to join a business board, look up the present member profiles on social networking sites. Join the same groups as these people and introduce yourself to them at meetings.
State your interest in becoming a member of the board. Explain to the other members that you have credentials and experience that relate to the activities of the organization and that you are interested in contributing to the organization. State any past board experience. If it is a business board, talk about experience you have working in the industry.
Submit a written application, including your cover letter and resume. If the board provides an application form, fill it out and send it in through whichever channel (mail, e-mail or in person) they prefer. If there is no application form, send in a package containing a cover letter, resume and reference list, through whichever channel they prefer.
Prepare to appear before the board if you are invited. If it is a publicly-held corporation, this will be a shareholder's meeting; contact the company's secretary by telephone to find out when this is. If it is a non-profit, the newest board member may be elected by the current board members or by the organization's entire membership. If you are invited, attend the meeting on the scheduled date. At the election meeting, you will likely be asked questions by the board members. Have a list of notes (preferably on index cards) on the organization or company's history, your work experience and your vision for the company. Refer to these notes when answering questions