Volunteering as Networking?

14 Mar

We are all super busy people.  So why would I suggest adding yet another thing to your plate?  Because in the long run, volunteering in your neighborhood will pay off.  Not to mention that it’s free!

How volunteering can help your business:

  • Volunteering is a very subtle way to network in your area.  Once you work with someone on a common goal, they are much more likely to call you when they need insurance for their business or refer you to a friend who mentions he/she is paying too much for his/her worker’s compensation.
  • Volunteering shows you care.  Most people want to work with honest, hard-working people who aren’t looking for anything in return.  Volunteering for a community project is a great way to make that impression on others.
  • It feels good to help!  Helping your community and completing a much needed project feels great.  And when you feel good, you smile and when you smile, you are open to doing more good things for others and when you… (Ok, I need to stop watching those commercials!)

What type of volunteer projects should I work on?

  • The best answer is:  Anything you are interested in!  Does your daughter play soccer?  Coach (or become assistant coach if you have two left feet) her team or volunteer to run the hot dog stand.  It never hurt anyone to put business cards on the counter or park your car in such a way that the other parents will see your business magnet.  Is your son in cubscouts?  Get involved!  Become a den leader or help set up events.
  • Scholarship programs.   Right now, I’m on a committee committed to awarding our area students scholarships for having great morals and values.  I joined the committee just as they started so I’ve been around since day 1, they all know what I do for a living and I always make sure I add value to each of our meetings.
  • Local clean up events.  There are always programs going on to clean up playground areas, parks, etc.  Join a clean-up group, wear one of your business shirts and let others ask you for advice as you clean.
  • School PTA/PTO committee.  Volunteer at your child’s school.  You will meet many other parents who all work in different businesses.  Once they know you, they will refer you.

Where do I find these events & programs?

  • Google it!  Google ‘volunteer opportunities in xxxx’ and you’ll find quite a number of things to choose from.
  • You know all those flyers your kids bring home every day? Look at them before you toss them. If there is an event you find interesting, call the person in charge and ask if there is any way you can help.
  • Your local paper.  I’m not talking about the $2 Sunday paper, I’m talking about the hyper local paper you get at the end of your driveway that gets soaked in the rain and you throw away.  Take a look at those and see if other businesses in your area are looking for volunteers for something.  That’s how I found the scholarship committee (run by a local real estate agent!).
  • Check out the recreation/community center in your area.  Take a look at their bulletin board.  There are a TON of opportunities available.

How not to volunteer….

If you are going to go the volunteer route, please don’t volunteer for the sole purpose of handing out business cards!  Everyone you are volunteering with will know immediately that you are ‘that guy’ and will avoid you like the plague.  Go into the volunteer experience knowing this isn’t a networking event and you’ll do just fine.  Also, don’t volunteer for something if you know you can’t commit to it.  It will be a waste of your time and theirs and you won’t make any connections that way.

If you can’t add value to the event or program, then that’s not the volunteer event for you!  Only go after programs where you know you will be viewed as a committed, honest hard-worker.  This will pay off in dividends for you and your company.

Now, it’s your turn.  Do you have any other tips for volunteering?  Any other ideas for volunteer opportunities?  Where have you volunteered and how did it pay off for you?

If you have any ideas or requests for future posts, please feel free to email me at melissa@njbusinessinsurancelady.com

Melissa Ash

New Jersey’s Business Insurance Lady



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