by Kelly Googe Lucas, marketing and social media manager
A great many business people give not just of their money to charitable and non-profit organizations, but also their time. They do this for many reasons, e.g. raising money and awareness for a condition that affects their family or helping with a group that works to better their local community, etc. But let’s be honest, as much as some people would love to help out others, maybe they feel they just don’t have the time. Well I’m here to tell you to make time, not just because ‘it’s the right thing to do,’ but because it can help your business as well. Sometimes work takes over your life, and you feel you can’t justify volunteering even a little when work is due. However, volunteering can actually help your business in the long run.
Let’s just cut to the chase; I’m appealing to your more selfish inclinations here, not your charitable side. Being an active volunteer can create goodwill for your company, this we know. But it can also give you access to some great connections that you might not have had otherwise.
I am a perfect example of how volunteering is a wise business move. A few years ago I was laid off and trying desperately to find a job. In an effort to keep my skills fresh and ready to go, I decided volunteering would be ‘something to do’ and maybe I’d make some great connections, so I figured at that point now was as good a time as any. I volunteered with the organization called Girls on the Run Atlanta to help with their Marketing & PR Committee and offered to set up social media accounts and a blog for them, since they did not have them at the time.
We quickly developed a strong following on Twitter and Facebook and our blog received quite a few clicks. In fact, we created such a following that I was invited to attend the Girls on the Run International conference to teach others about social media. Because of the time I had put in to helping this organization, I was able to really hone my marketing skills, learn new tricks, and was given the opportunity to be in front of a great many C-Level and influential business people. I made some wonderful contacts at the event and received referrals for potential work that I may not have received had I not decided to volunteer.
Everyone knows working with a non-profit makes you ‘look good,’ but I don’t think many stop to look at the other positive benefits to you and your business. This may seem like a strange message (helping yourself by helping others) but it’s really a win-win situation. My story demonstrates how giving your time can introduce you to movers and shakers that you may not have had the opportunity to meet during your normal routine. Volunteering can keep your skills fresh when needed and even introduce you to new skills that can improve your resume and help your career.
Admittedly, I started volunteering with some pretty selfish motives, i.e. wanting to meet connections that could help me land a job. However, once I became immersed in Girls on the Run Atlanta, I fell in love with the group and its message, and now I volunteer not because I feel like I should, but because I love it. Anything else that comes along with it is just a bonus.