Thursday, June 17, 2010

Prospecting for Board Members: Map That, Too!

IN MY LAST POST I WROTE ABOUT mapping your current board.  Let's go to the next step and think about how this same type of mapping can be used to identify skills and attributes needed to add to a board.   Your map might begin with a simple list of these skills and attributes -- a list that is drawn from discussions about your organization's vision, mission and values, from your strategic or long-range plan, from a board self-assessment and/or from writing a statement about what your ideal board would look like.
As I've written about here, this exercise sets you (and your nominating or board development committee) up for moving your search from the "what" to the "who" -- the people who might fill your skills/attributes requirements.
Some of your primary candidates might be found among your members, your volunteers, your corporate underwriters, and any number of people your organization interacts with every day.  But other prospects may be more removed...or not yet known.  Your map might consist of a set of concentric circles, with the inner most circle containing the names of prospects closest to the organization.  Each expanding outer ring contains people with less and less direct connection, but all this means is that you'll have to 1) use a wider network to learn about them and 2) invest in a longer period of cultivation.
Or your map might be a matrix with skills listed on the left-hand column and attributes in headers along the top.  Start filling in the matrix with prospects you know best (a prospect may be listed multiple times depending on how many of the criteria he/she meets -> that's a good sign).  Then move on to names you know less well.  The blank spaces left on your matrix represent the folks you don't know yet and you'll need to expand your networks to identify.
And what about those people you don't even know yet?   That's where the skills/attributes list is key, because it becomes the basis for asking your networks the question "Do you know some who meets these criteria and might be interested in our mission?"  And that's when your organization's network can grow exponentially.

Image:  2010 - February - NodeXL - ssm2010...from Marc_Smith

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