One of the first steps to take when networking for your business is to become more visible in the community. Remember that people need to know you, like you and trust you in order to refer you. Building connections relies on fostering familiarity, trust, and likability among peers who can potentially refer you to the people they know.
Volunteering can position you to meet key people in your community. It connects you with people who share your passion. It gives you opportunities to demonstrate your talents, skills, and integrity. It can also help you build credibility by showing your ability to follow up and do what you say you are going to do. It instantly expands the depth and breadth of your network.
People who volunteer demonstrate their commitment to a cause without concern for personal gain. Therefore, your volunteering efforts should be with organizations or causes for which you hold genuine interest and concern. If the group’s administrators or other volunteers perceive that you are in it primarily for your own gain, your visibility will work against you and will undermine your own goals.
Choosing the Right Organization
Volunteering is not a recreational activity. It is a serious commitment to help address and fulfill societal needs. Choosing the right organization or cause that aligns with your passions and interests requires a thoughtful and strategic approach.
Ask yourself these nine questions:
- What do you enjoy doing for yourself in your leisure time?
- What hobbies bring you fulfillment and satisfaction?
- Are there any sports or games that you excel in and can teach to others?
- What aspects of life bring you joy and satisfaction?
- Which social, political, or health issues are you passionate about because it personally relates to you, your family, or your friends?
- Based on your answers to the first five questions, what are three organizations that appeal to you and align with your interests? Examples include youth leagues, clubs, libraries, activist groups, homeless shelters, religious groups, food banks. Select the one that resonates with you the most and conduct thorough research online and in the community.
- After you have researched this group, does it offer opportunities conducive to your personal or professional objectives? If so, visit the group to “try it on” – gauge the atmosphere and dynamics. You may want to visit a few times.
- After you have visited this group, reflect on your experience. Do you still want to commit your time and effort? If so, continue to #9.
- Are other group members satisfied with the organization? Identify three people representing different tenures to interview and assess their satisfaction with the group. (Consider choosing a new member, a two- to three-year member, and a seasoned five+ years member to interview.)
Once you’ve done the research required to satisfactorily answer these nine questions, join the selected group and begin to volunteer to bolster your visibility. Seek leadership roles that will demonstrate your strengths, talents, and skills. In other words, volunteer and become visible. It’s a great way to build your personal network and solidify your presence within it.
A multifaceted approach is required to expand your visibility and build credibility through volunteering.
Strategic Engagement: Identify opportunities within the organization where you can effectively leverage your skills and expertise.
Consistent Participation: Regular involvement in volunteer activities reinforces your commitment and fosters deeper connections with fellow members.
Effective Communication: Articulate your objectives and aspirations clearly to fellow volunteers and organizational leader to foster mutual understanding and collaboration.
Proactive Leadership: Assume proactive leadership roles to showcase your capabilities and influence positive change within the organization.
Continuous Learning: Embrace opportunities for personal and professional development within the volunteering sphere which will enrich your skill set.
Volunteering serves as an invaluable platform to contribute to the greater good of the community while increasing your network and positioning yourself as a reliable and esteemed figure within your professional sphere.
By embracing the spirit of altruism and active participation, you can expand your network and also leave a lasting impact on the causes that you champion. It’s through these collective efforts that we forge stronger, more vibrant communities that are grounded in the values of empathy, collaboration, and shared purpose.
Are you already an active volunteer? If so, what organization do you volunteer with and how has it helped you gain visibility within your community? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below. Thank you!