When seeking a board seat, how you come across on LinkedIn impacts visibility and credibility with the people you want to reach. Optimizing your profile to better position you as a qualified director enables you to better resonate with target audiences too.
A board-ready LinkedIn profile highlights all board experience (public, private, advisory, nonprofit), board-relevant experience and board education or training. It conveys the strategic impact you’ve had on companies and shows how you’ve collaborated to drive critical objectives like growth, profitability and shareholder value.
Whether seeking your first or fifth board seat, here are 7 sections to update now for a board-ready LinkedIn profile:
Headshots make critical first impressions, immediately influencing perceptions of likeability and trust. Does your headshot convey the confidence and composure critical for a board director? Evaluate what you’re wearing, as well as posture, gaze and the image background. Does it reflect someone poised to advise and guide companies into the future? A picture is worth a thousand words, so ensure your headshot communicates the right message.
Your LinkedIn profile headline is an important part of introducing yourself, attracting views and being found. It can influence whether someone clicks to read more about you as well as search result visibility with LinkedIn’s internal algorithm. When writing your headline, include keywords that relate to primary board-relevant areas of expertise and also indicate if you're already a director. Use this high value real estate to establish relevancy and credibility, not just state job title and company name.
Concisely tell your story, bringing together corporate background, areas of expertise, board experience and board-relevant experience to showcase what differentiates you as a board candidate. Share how your perspective can make you a more attractive director -- and remember that the first few lines (before “see more”) are the most visible, so make them count.
In addition to your corporate roles, also add all public and private company board positions under Experience, detailing your impact as a director. Recent corporate roles should have some information highlighting any board-relevant activities you were a part of, besides the basics (job title, dates, company name). Experience on large nonprofit boards (i.e., those that function similarly to public company boards) can go here too.
Include board certifications, programs and coursework under either Education or Certifications (depending on the program). In general, if a professional development program or specific course doesn’t offer certification, then add it under Education. Include programs in which you earn a certification (e.g., NACD or Harvard Business School) under Certifications.
List nonprofit and professional association board positions, plus any leadership or committee roles you’ve held. It’s better to list this information in this section (vs. under Organizations) because it’s more prominent as you can select the company name and associated logo. Images resonate more quickly with viewers than text alone.
Update your skills list with board-relevant competencies and designate at least one board-related skill among the top three skills you can pin. Note that areas like Finance, HR or IT are a bit broad and don’t really differentiate your expertise meaningfully. Instead, include more precise skills like Risk Management, Succession Planning and/or Data Privacy.
Optimizing your LinkedIn profile is critical preparation before marketing yourself for a board seat. A strong and current LinkedIn presence helps you gain exposure, network and better resonate as a potential board candidate. Take the time to highlight board-relevant experience and expertise in your LinkedIn profile to ensure you'll make optimal impressions when engaging with current/recent directors, plus increase your discoverability with board search professionals, search committees and related audiences.