Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women on Business writer
There are many reasons why women should consider getting involved in a community organization or extracurricular activity. It is important to be an advocate, help others, make your voice heard, and contribute. In addition, it makes excellent business sense. If you look at the resumes of industry leaders, you will see that many of the most effective and successful people in business understand that volunteer work is an integral part of networking and adds to their leadership experience and development.
Remember, while you are giving time to a social cause, charity or professional association, you’re helping your career by gaining leadership experience, networking opportunities and business contacts.
More specifically, you may realize advantages such as:
- Gaining valuable information
- Learning interpersonal and leadership skills
- Building allies and developing reciprocal business relationships
- Acquiring new business opportunities and leads
- Understanding various outside organizations
- Being asked to join a board or committee position
And – another important advantage – helping others!
While these activities require an additional time commitment during the work day, and outside of work, the benefits in terms of one’s personal, business and career satisfaction are undeniable.
In order to gauge the level of your activities outside of your job, and whether it is adequate, ask yourself the following questions (excerpt from Breaking into the Boys Club):
- Have you carved out time outside of work to volunteer?
- Are you a working member of a professional, civic or charitable organization?
- Do you consider volunteer work to be a strategic part of your career and leadership development?
- Do you engage in any extracurricular activities that build contacts?
- Are you receptive when asked to participate in outside civic and community activities?
If you feel you’re on the right track for becoming more involved in activities outside of work and raising your profile in the community, congratulations! If not, you may want to step up your activities in order to take advantage of the benefits and opportunities provided in outside civic and community work.
If you are having trouble seeing where and how you could add value to an organization, here are some examples of what you can offer a community organization:
- Marketing & PR advice and input for events, fundraising.
- Management & personnel guidance.
- Financial expertise on how to save costs & leverage dollars.
- Technical help in how to manage data base client & donor information.
- Contacts for resources and donations.
- Leadership experience for driving initiatives.
And, below are some tangible ways you can gain by becoming involved:
- Exposure and visibility through chairing or hosting events and public speaking
- Persuasion and influence skills developed through fundraising
- Team- building skills through leading projects and initiatives
- Networking skills honed by making introductions for the organization
So…if you are already participating in volunteer activities, you have a leg up. If not, have I convinced you to give it a try? Let me know how your community or professional activities have worked for you.