ADVISEE SEARCH: GETTING INVITED TO SERVE AS ADVISOR
In the spring of 1987, Doyle Graf Mabley, a New York-based advertising firm, asked 600 people with household incomes of $100,000 or more to rank twenty symbols of personal success and achievement, such as owning an expensive car or holding an important position in government. The top three answers: owning a business, traveling abroad frequently, and sitting on the board of a cultural institution.
The Wall Street Journal of January 7, 1988, quoted Adam Stagliano, who supervised the survey, as commenting: "Owning a car or a boat, anyone can do if they have the money, but (being on a board) requires something else. They (directorships) are more traditional elitist symbols." Or, as Suzy, the New York Post's society columnist puts it: "You can be rich and powerful but not prestigious."
Being a director or trustee on a charitable or for-profit institution brings a cachet that cannot be ignored despite the liability exposure that may be involved. An advisory role may not be quite as prestigious, but it carries much of the same distinction.
A preparation strategy for seeking an invitation to serve on an advisory board--or a statutory board of directions, for that matter--can be chunked into three categories: (1) personal attributes, (2) situational conditions, and (3) techniques or practices that may enhance opportunities for sitting on an advisory board. The range of valuable personal attributes is so broad and situation-specific that only some general qualifications can be usefully discussed. Most of the following is conventional wisdom.