[Webinar] How to Recruit and Engage Executive Advisory Board Members During Coronavirus


The backbone of any Customer Advisory Board is the board members. You need to ensure that you have the right strategic members and that they are engaged year-round. How do you aim high in recruiting advisory board members? How do you keep the board members engaged, especially during COVID-19 when in-person meetings have been canceled?

Guest speaker Ben Tao, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Forcepoint will share best practices, strategies, and tips for advisory board recruitment and engagement based on his experience managing the Forcepoint Executive Advisory Board. Forcepoint has successfully recruited CISOs from Fortune 500 companies to their Executive Advisory Board (EAB)—and the board has impacted Forcepoint’s strategy and product development since its inception in 2017.

What You Will Learn During the Webinar:

  • The ideal recruitment process
  • Tips to manage membership throughout the year
  • Pivoting to virtual meetings for board member engagement
  • Virtual meetings best practices—and how to effectively run breakout session
  • How to leverage advisory board members for thought leadership
  • How board members have impacted Forcepoint’s strategic decisions


Deeper Dive into Some of the Advisory Board Best Practices Shared:

  • For advisory board member recruitment, get specific on the member criteria and stick to it. The Forcepoint Executive Advisory Board is exclusively for members that are CISOs at Fortune 500 companies with revenue above $5.6 billion or above, in the Americas and Western Europe. Recruitment success is also due to the Forcepoint CEO (the board executive sponsor) who is highly engaged and he personally extends the invitation to join the board.
  • Ultimately, CAB recruitment is a continuous process, even during COVID-19. Non-active members should be retired and attrition is a reality. Managing membership is all about ongoing engagement.
  • Push your organization to have your advisory board help on strategic decisions. Do not to treat the advisory board as a selling or marketing vehicle. Focus on getting board feedback on true strategic decisions. And demonstrate that your company is hearing the board’s feedback and that you are actually incorporating that feedback as appropriate.
  • Plan for quarterly CAB member meetings throughout the year.  Prior to COVID-19, Forcepoint held virtual quarterly meetings (60 minutes) and one in-person 1.5-day meeting. In 2020, Forcepoint pivoted to 90-minute quarterly meetings and a 3.5-hour Zoom meeting in lieu of the 1.5-day in-person meeting.
  • Preparation and dry runs are critical, as is creating a member driven agenda. Engage members in topics that interest them. Forcepoint achieves this by going through an extensive process of interviewing each member on their top of mind topics. All key stakeholders attend dry runs (in-person and virtual) and especially for virtual meetings, a detailed show flow with speakers and timing is essential.
  • Having a third party facilitator like Ignite is really helpful in agenda creation and to help facilitate the conversation. The third party facilitator manages the meeting cadence, making the meeting that much productive for everybody.
  • Delivering a white glove experience for advisory board members is part of the overall board program and Forcepoint extended it to the virtual setting as well. In-person meetings take place at high-end resorts, social networking activities and personalized gifts are included, and all expenses are covered. For their virtual meeting that replaced the in-person meeting, Forcepoint mailed a physical package with meeting materials and a member bio booklet. And they provided social networking via a virtual wine tasting.
  • While some might experience a challenge in getting home addresses of advisory board members (during COVID-19 to send physical packages), Forcepoint was able to do so, and it’s all about trust. It comes back to the brand image you’ve created of the advisory board as a sub-brand of the company. High attention to detail is important in all aspects of the board to create that high level of trust (e.g., keeping the board incredibly professional, not recording the meeting, thoughtful selection of gifts, providing the overall level of quality).
  • Virtual breakout sessions are a must to engage advisory board members. Give the board members an opportunity to discuss with each other and exchange ideas in smaller groups. Make sure the topic is relevant and the objectives and deliverable are clear. Have the members lead and facilitate the discussion (pick the right members to lead in advance of the virtual meeting) and provide readouts back to the entire group.
  • Integrate your your advisory board into other company initiatives. For example, Forcepoint has leveraged advisory board members to provide video case studies, thought leadership videos, and participate in a Wall Street Journal brand awareness campaign. Advisory board members are happy to participate when asked because it’s good for their personal brand and network, in addition to helping the host company.