The job title “Volunteer” has been a position that many have overlooked and underestimated. No matter what field you are in, volunteering can be one of the most beneficial services you can engage in. Why is it when people hear the word “volunteer” they immediately cringe and walk away? HELLO! You are missing out on your blessing. Last month, Forward PR volunteered our services at one of the most influential women of color conferences out right now, ColorComm (#C2Miami). The three-day conference hosted over four hundred CEO, VP, and entry level business women who worked in the communications industry throughout the U.S. The experience we endured as a volunteer was beyond the experience we’ve had as a paid agency. Want to know why? Because we came into the position with intentions, readiness, and an open-mind. Never mistake the importance of the volunteer role and how people are depending on you more than they usually depend on the paying staff. Working in public relations or any communications job, you’ll learn that the way to get ahead and gain clients is experience, exposure, and network. Volunteering is one of the greatest ways to get all three! You’re able to learn new skills, improve your career development, gain new contacts for future endeavors and clients, in addition to getting your name out there. According to Forbes, “…skills-based volunteering is an excellent opportunity to develop talents to help you get ahead in your career.” Now, we’ll share tips on how you can win when serving!
5 Winning Tips:
1. Keep your business cards handy.
People often go back and forth about the significance of business cards and if they’re really necessary now-a-days with social media. But, imagine the benefits they can bring if you’re in a deep conversation with someone and suddenly have to dash. With a business card, you now can slip them your card and remain in contact with one another.
*Gem: Create an edgy/memorable business card that will make people want to use it.
2. Work like you’re getting paid.
Although you won’t be receiving a check in the mail for your hard-work, time, and maybe sweat, still give 108% percent while volunteering. Use that opportunity to show that company/organization/person that you are a leader or dedicated to the task given no matter if you’re getting paid or not. This shows them that you are self-driven and possibly a great candidate to offer a paying job to.
*Gem: You never know who is watching you serve or where your next blessing can come from.
3. Gain experience on someone else’s dime.
The opportunity to volunteer opens the door for you to learn new things, gain more experience, and allows you to go through trial and errors without losing a job.
*Gem: If you’re are not enjoying the role you’re volunteering in, try your best to finish through the day before quitting. Or, simply communicate with your leader or manager how you can be more valuable somewhere else.
4. Network, work, work, work, work!
This is one of the greatest ways to network. You will be acquainted with some of the most influential team players of the company or event that you probably wouldn’t have met or have been able to converse with before volunteering. This is your time to connect and introduce yourself to them, and the other people you're working with.
*Gem: Always be intentional when volunteering. Research who you’re going to work with and be around before the day-of.
5. Take Notes.
While volunteering, observe everyone’s roles and duties for the day. Try to be present and understand that volunteering is an opportunity to learn and grow. So, walk into it with an open-mind, and learn from your surrounding and those from a far. Once you learn and experience new things take that with you to better yourself. Also, if you notice challenges or things that need to change/make better, make a note and share your suggested solutions to someone who can make a difference like a director, manager, VP, or CEO, if possible.
*Gem: Don’t be afraid to speak up and join the conversation with the other staff and higher authority employees. Showing that you’re invested in their business can be a great look. But, make sure if you’re suggesting a change that you’ve done your research and are certain it hasn’t been done before. They may or may not take your suggestion, but you made an impression!