A business owner that I know was telling the story of how she began her business. She mentioned the value of asking other women business owners out for coffee to pick their brain and each one offered incredible advice.
One woman business owner admitted that in the first two years of her business, she donated a lot of her services for free. She joined the board of a few different charity organizations that meant something to her and offered her businesses services as a donation.
The experience didn’t pad her bank account, but it did provide the opportunity to meet and work along side important, influential, well connected business professionals. At the end of the two years, two things happened:
- She felt great about the work she’d done within the organizations and the help it provided.
- Her business grew (with paid clients) thanks to the relationships she’d made working side by side other professionals in the community.
As time went on, she narrowed her volunteer work to just those positions that were truly important to her and continues, to this day, to offer her services for the help of others while growing the profitability of her business.
In a recent article by Gabrielle Rapke Hoffman, entitled Extracurriculars are Not Just for Kids: The Career Payoffs of Volunteering the author also shares her views on the benefits of volunteering.
Taking on a leadership role in a nonprofit can be an excellent way to gain or deepen your leadership experience. I once became President of a nonprofit after the previous President moved out of state. Membership had dwindled to only 30% of what it had been in prior years, events were poorly attended, and the Treasury was low on funds. In less than 2 years as President, I rebuilt the organization to over 80 members. Volunteering to lead this nonprofit out of a challenging time taught me many valuable professional skills: building and managing an executive board, regaining the trust and interest of disappointed members, developing a leadership pipeline,marketing the organization, seeking donations, delivering speeches to large audiences, and much more.
Volunteering offers many important opportunities whether you are an entrepreneur or a business professional in the corporate world:
- Leadership experience
- Visibility and recognition
- Gain secondary skills
- Test out a new career direction
- Meet new centers of influence
- Sense of accomplishment
- Be productive part of the community
Finally, a great benefit to volunteering is the message is sends to the leaders in your company. This from the World Volunteer website:
Send a signal to your employer, teachers, friends and family…
People pay attention to your life outside the environment in which they have direct contact with you. For example, your employer would be interested in the activities that gives you a good work-life balance, just as academic institutions are interested in your extra-curricular activities. Volunteering reflects and supports a complete picture of you, and gives real examples of your commitment, dedication and interests. Show people what you are passionate about and maybe you will inspire them too!
Do you currently volunteer, serve on a board, offer your services to a non-profit organization? If not, now is the perfect time to start. Not sure how to find the opportunities? Check out the Volunteer Match website which will help you discover opportunities in your community.