If you have dreams of adding more people to your contact database, whether it’s to attract more clients, build your business, advance in your career, learn some new skills, or bring more color and dimension to your social life, I have a suggestion for you: take on a volunteer or leadership role with a professional association, networking group, or non-profit organization.
Over the years I’ve served on committees and boards for a number of organizations. As a student, I did it because my parents, professors, and mentors advised me to. (“It will look good on your resume.”) Then I had friends and colleagues who talked me into it. (“Come on. It will be fun.”) Finally, I did it because I felt called to do it.
Three of my favorite roles have been Special Events Chair, Membership Chair, and Programs Chair. But there are many roles that need to be filled to keep groups going. This coming summer I’m stretching and taking on a role I’ve never even considered before. I’m a little anxious, but I know it will be a wonderful experience and I’m determined to do it.
Regardless of the urging, reasoning, or even the role or experience itself, I was always glad I served. And I’ll continue to do so. What’s more, upon reflection I have always received benefits far greater than the time and energy I put into the job. Here are just a few of those benefits that I enjoyed. Perhaps you can experience them, too.
- I served with and got to know some really smart, purposeful, generous, caring, successful, and sometimes even famous people.
- I was able to demonstrate my work ethic, creativity, and abilities to others.
- I learned a lot about my strengths, weaknesses, and (most importantly) blind spots.
- I learned how to plan, organize and manage in ways beyond the jobs I’ve held and businesses I’ve run.
- I learned things that have helped me run my own business (and life) better.
- I learned how to manage my time better.
- Since I’m a solopreneur, I have been reminded of how to work within part of a larger team.
- I learned that there will be mistakes, hiccups, miscommunications, disasters, and problems. But you get through them.
- I also learned the thrill of a job well done.
- I was inspired to write and got a lot of material to write my book The Intentional Networker.
- I have had fun. A lot of fun.
- And, yes, I have attracted new clients and opportunities via all these connections and experiences.
If you’ve never volunteered your time, talents or resources to an organization, I highly recommended you try it. And if you’ve done so, don’t stop. (Sure, you may want to take a break now and then or change up the group you serve or the role you take on.) Think of all you learn, the exposure you get, the people you meet, and the satisfaction you receive from doing it. It’s in giving that we receive — andhow we become more successful and Intentional Networkers(tm).
Do you belong to or have a leadership role in a professional organization? Let me know if your group would be interested in having me come speak about Intentional Networking. For details please visit my Speaking page.
As a solopreneur, I’ve found volunteering really is a fabulous way to stay connected with other professionals. I really enjoyed coordinating Programs for Freelance Austin as it allowed me to reach out and meet experts in other fields that I otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to get to know (and bring in some of my favorite speakers!). I’m about to step outside of my comfort zone this coming year, too, but really looking forward to the opportunity to learn new skills and meet so many talented, new people. So many rewards!
Susan, you are so right. And if I remember correctly we may both be taking on similar roles. Let’s stay in touch — swap notes, support each other!
Could not agree more!!! So enriching in life to contribute.
And, Lorie, you’ve been a wonderful leader and role model in your field(s)!
volunteering and serving other organizations is some of the best marketing/networking you can do…
great way to build your brand…