I firmly believe in the saying, ‘you only get out of things as much as you put into them.’ Our industry is a people industry and if you want to make connections, you need to engage people face-to-face. One of the best ways to accomplish that is by volunteering. Here’s why…
I’ve been an active volunteer in the industry for over 15 years, across at least seven different associations, large and small, national and local. I am the person I am today in part due to those volunteer roles and responsibilities over the years. Regardless of the size, budget or task required, volunteering has allowed me to grow both as an industry professional and expert, and professionally in my career in ways I did not expect.
12 Benefits of Volunteering
- Build deep industry relationships, globally, that you would not have had the opportunity to develop otherwise.
- Be known as a “do-er” and people will call you.
- Learn how associations and not-for-profit organizations operate.
- Improve your communication skills (practicing outside your organization never hurts).
- Learn about government relations and lobbying efforts.
- Have fun and laugh. Your peers are there because they choose to be and this is a great environment to work in.
- Learn how to lead and manage people.
- Learn – the conversations you have before and after volunteer meetings are sometimes more important and valuable than you could ever imagine. Learn about your peer’s challenges as they are happening, and possibly become part of the solution.
- Be respected as an expert.
- Grow your reputation as someone who is knowledgeable and caring about our industry and its health.
- Marketing – the face-to-face time you spend is a form of marketing for you and your organization.
- Get the gossip – like most industries, ours is one of musical chairs. Associations are a great way to keep on top of not just who’s who, but who’s where, too!
There is no excuse not to get involved in any one of our industry’s 20-plus associations. If you want to make deep and lasting relationships with customers and prospects, there is no better way than rolling up your sleeves and showing off your stuff elbow-to-elbow. Take it from me; the time you invest will pay off in spades.