Board Service For Your Brand

Board Service For Your Brand

If you have the time and knowledge, board service pays it forward and back.

So you want to serve on a board? Or a trusted colleague has asked you to serve. What does this mean and how do you possibly have the time in your already packed work and family schedule?

“Your deeds and actions tell the world about your commitment to others,” says Matt Kramer, president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. Board service then becomes service to your community or causes important to you. If you serve on a corporate board, you actually help influence the inner workings of business.

Strategic advantage

A lot to take on? Not if you want to grow your personal brand and give yourself strategic advantages. “Position your board service to serve others,” Kramer adds, “and in doing so you will serve yourself.” The entrée into new worlds and productive relationships is boundless, really—in some cases, borderless. “Having responsibilities in a foreign country requires you to become a student of a new culture,” points out Nancy Calderon, global lead partner for KPMG. She is co-author of Women on Board and also serves on the board of KPMG’s Global Delivery Center in India. “The drive to be an inquisitive student of cultural IQ,” she notes, “enhances your brand as a global leader.”

Corporate or nonprofit

Serving on nonprofit boards is “great for meeting people and can indirectly help you along your path through your passion for a certain cause,” explains Linda Hall, a former CEO who spends her retirement serving on four corporate boards. She has also served on nonprofit as well as not-for-profit boards. She emphasizes a few key benefits to serving on a corporate board:

  1. Insights to take back to your own company
  2. Knowledge sharing
  3. Interaction with interesting people
  4. Compensation

Hall goes on to say corporate board service is a lot of work, including travel and hours spent studying materials prior to meetings. She also busts the myth that service on a nonprofit board is a segue toward service on a corporate board. But in my opinion both are ways to enhance your brand and grow your value.

Truly identifying your intent before you dive into the process is important. I have clients who know they want to spend their retirement serving on corporate boards to share knowledge, while also eyeing that board salary. Others feel nonprofit board service is the best way to pay it forward and give back through their commitments of time, talent and often, money. There is no correct answer. Planning is important for your own personal brand.

Charting your course

Try this simple quiz:

  1. Why do I want to serve on a board?
  2. How does this fit my overall brand vision?
  3. Do I have the time to share in a productive manner and spirit?

When you are able to answer these questions, your answers will guide you through this decision. Ask colleagues and mentors to learn their approach to board service. You may even happen into someone who’ll bring you onto his or her board.

Added benefits

  • Board service is the ultimate form of relationship-building. One term on a nonprofit board is usually three years. Several give you the option to serve a second term. A board commitment is at least several years of service. Do the math: That’s a lot of face time with interesting and important people.
  • KPMG’s Calderon shares her experience on nonprofit boards through speeches, articles and her book. She says this has added to her brand “the commitment to make a change in the world through board diversity, better governance, and inspiring board members to focus on future trends and strategies.”
  • You’ve probably attended galas or events put on by organizations. Boards usually have something to do with planning those events, so the social benefits of service may also appeal to you.

Through your board experiences you can showcase your talents in crisis as well as in good times. Board service tends to be self-perpetuating. Relationships developed on one board often lead to service on another. It’s brought a diverse cornucopia of amazing people into my life.

Feel free to drop me a line if you need more specific tips about how board service can help you boost your personal brand.

Roshini Rajkumar is a communication coach, host of News & Views on WCCO Radio, and author of Communicate That! For additional communication tips, visit