When you volunteer, you work for an organization without getting paid. What many people do not realize is that volunteering is a great opportunity to gain experience and acquire skills.
It also gives you a unique opportunity to meet people you would never have encountered in any other situation. This provides you with the chance to expand your network in ways that can influence your future career.
He says research has shown that volunteering takes people out of their comfort zones, allowing them to develop new business relevant skills that lift their earning capacity.Follow these tips to make your volunteer experience work for you.
1. Volunteer strategically
Volunteering in itself will not necessarily move your career forward. You need to volunteer strategically to get the best results. Choose to volunteer where yourskills are relevant and where job opportunities may open up in the future.
2. Create meaningful relationships
As a volunteer, you’re able to move around in an organization and connect with people in different departments.You can’t just add someone on LinkedIn and think this is enough. You have to reach out to people who share your values and form meaningful relationships that will last. This requires constantly keeping in contact so that the relationship can develop.
3. Be open to learn
Have the attitude that everyone you meet is able to teach you something.Don’t dismiss any opportunity to learn. Networking with others who have a diverse range of skills and experience gives you the opportunity to learn from others who know more than you do.
4. Meet professionals in an industry you want to work in
You can work with the type of professionals, and in the work environment, you hope to be part of in the future. This gives you first-hand experience in an area that interests you. If you’re working with professionals who inspire you, you should be like a sponge, soaking up everything they have to offer.
5. Allow others to get to know you
Explain to others why you wanted to volunteer, what inspires you and what impact you would like to have on the world. Being open in this way allows other people to get to know you and to understand what motivates you. You may find that you connect deeply with others who feel the same way as you do about making an impact on the world.
6. Share your knowledge and experience
You will not only learn from others, but you will get the opportunity to contribute and share what you have learned. If you have a real contribution to make in a particular area, others in the organization willremember you and what you brought to the organization.
7.Meet a mentor
Volunteering offers an opportunity to identify and connect with a mentor who can have a positive impact on your professional development. This is someone who has an interest in the same industry as you and can guide you, help you to avoid common mistakes and speed up your progress.
8.Attend fundraisers and other events
Companies are having their employees volunteer more than ever before because they realize its benefits. Fundraisers are also commonly held by volunteer organizations where you can meet others.
You can introduce yourself to employee volunteersand start building relationships. This is not the time to ask for a job but to build connections you can count on when it’s time to reach out professionally.
9.Develop your skills
Nonprofits run much like other businesses, except for the funding. They have similar operational departmentsso volunteers can learn new,valuable skills such as accounting, negotiation, public relationships, social media,and marketing.
Debbie Roman, senior director of Member Strategy for Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania believes that volunteering not only gives employers an insight into candidates but gives volunteers the chance to improve their skills.
10. Meet and work with influential people
When you volunteer, you’re exposed to individuals you probably wouldn’t meet in ordinary circumstances. Big Brothers, Big Sistersis an organization whose Board of Directors includes government officials, professional athletes, corporate leaders, and entertainers. Volunteers have access to them and work side by side with them.
Future employers are able to tell a great deal about someone’s character by the effort they put in to support the causes they believe in. Networking while volunteering can provide a means to work towards any future career goal you have in mind.