Monday, October 19, 2009
Expand your earning potential with board service
I spent the end of last week in Baltimore at a board meeting for the National Association of Black Journalists (which is why I didn't post here much). As a matter of career advancement, there are few ways outside your 9-5 gig to build your professional repertoire than serving on the board of a professional organization, so if you're looking to climb the ladder or build your skills, consider taking this route.
I joined NABJ's board in August as Region IV (Midwest) director. That puts me in charge of an 11-state area that includes some of the country's largest cities: Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Minneapolis. My job is to make sure our professional and student chapters have the support they need and to raise money for the organization, which means my professional network has expanded tremendously in the last few months. And since I had to win an election to get on the board and through campaigning, I shook countless hands and exchanged cards with people I may never have talked to otherwise.
Since joining the board, one of the most important benefits has been access: Last week alone I met privately with four of the top editors at the Washington Post and three top editors at the Baltimore Sun; I've also had an audience with the Chairman of the New York Times Co. and conversations with the dean of the Medill School of Journalism. That's all within the first three months of a two-year term. The benefits go the other way, as well: by being on the board, I'm also able to serve others. I was able to invite students, recent graduates and the vice president of institutional advancement of my alma mater, Coppin State University, to have lunch with and network with our board. My meetings at the Sun and Post were "advocacy meetings" where I got to address the issue of workplace diversity with top executives who can make hiring and promotion decisions.
Lastly, there's almost no way to serve on a board like this and not expand your skills. I'm learning about event planning, fund raising and Roberts Rules of Order, which is the standard operating procedure for boards of directors and government bodies (including the US Congress). In short, the universe of jobs I'm qualified to do and my connections to potential opportunities are way up. You should consider getting on the board of a professional organization or nonprofit if you want t make the same happen for yourself.
photo: Keith Reed & the NABJ Board in Washington, DC (credit: Benet Wilson)