Whether you’re searching for a new job or implementing strategies to grow your business, volunteering is an effective way to help you achieve your goal. A powerful networking tool, volunteering connects you to new audiences and sharpens your professional skills.
Some might think that volunteering is wasting time that could be spent sending out resumes or arranging meetings with current associates, but we’ve compiled five networking strategies that reveal how volunteering can help you.
Donate Your Skills
Nonprofits are often founded on a sense of mission and a desire to help a needy cause. However, they commonly lack staff with technical skills or well developed business sense to maximize the nonprofit’s impact. That’s where you come in. Find a nonprofit that aligns with your passions and that needs your skills, and spend some time each month donating your expertise. It’s an opportunity to practice your own skills in a different environment, help a needy cause, and, as Royal Caribbean President and COO Adam Goldstein says, “meet community influencers or major benefactors,” which could benefit your career in the long run.
Get to Know Everyone
The nonprofit culture will open the curtains to a whole new audience. The nonprofit’s staff, volunteers, beneficiaries, and benefactors are groups of people who you would not have otherwise encountered, and most might be interested to learn about your business. When you volunteer, take the time to get to know the people around you, and you will accomplish two important objectives: 1. Others will associate your business with your good nature and your social responsibility, and 2. Others will be more likely to patronize your business or send you referrals, which you would not have otherwise experienced. Ultimately, as founder of Quintessential Careers Dr. Randall S. Hansen says, “Networking is relationship-building.” Make this your mantra, and your time spent volunteering will reap great rewards.
Join Professional Groups
Become a part of an organized group of volunteer professionals, and you will network with a brand new set of forward thinkers and community leaders. Search for a Corporate Volunteer Council in your area, and you’ll work with likeminded professionals to solve social ills in your community. Or, find out what local nonprofits are accepting new volunteers for their Junior Boards. Once a little known concept, Junior Boards have become quite popular, as nonprofits seek to benefit from the skills and ingenuity of young professionals. Your place on a Junior Board would allow you to meet other professionals and engage in practical steps to advance the nonprofit and help the community. Generally speaking, volunteer membership in professional groups is an excellent credential to include on your resume.
Use Social Media
Make social media work for you! If your employer has an Employee Volunteer Program, participate in it, and create or join its social media group. Use it to engage your co-workers by recognizing volunteer efforts, commenting on photos or videos, or starting discussions on best practices. Alternatively, if you volunteer outside of work, create or participate in a social media group for volunteer professionals in your area. Engaging in such groups connects you to others through service, boosts the enthusiasm and potential for your volunteer impact, and creates an awareness for issues important to people like you.
Embed Yourself at Big Events
Commonly, large corporations either sponsor events or send employees en masse to volunteer at them. Events such as 5Ks or community holiday festivals often have a substantial corporate presence, giving you an excellent opportunity to meet people. Volunteer at these events, and take the chance to introduce yourself to corporate personnel. You’ll give them a first impression of initiative and concern for interests like theirs. Building on these connections could present new career opportunities and forge lasting relationships.
Want to learn more? Visit Points of Light’s Resources for Companies page, which offers a wealth of information on how businesses and professionals can operate effective volunteer programs. Or, check out VolunteerMatch to find a volunteer opportunity that’s right for you.
Learn more about how MobileServe can help you track, monitor, and share your volunteer hours by clicking the link below!