Why Volunteering is Good for Business, Good for the Soul: 5 essential volunteer skills that will help drive your business

Why do people volunteer? Simply because they love the work, and are passionate about an organization. People volunteer because they want to make a difference in their community, their world, and they want to help others succeed. Volunteering makes people feel good, it balances their work and personal life, and feeds that creative part of the soul.

I’ve been a part of Women in Consulting for at least eight years or more, and seven of those eight years I’ve been a volunteer board member. WIC has been successful at feeding my creative soul. If you’re part of WIC, you know that this is a tremendous organization with some of the most talented and vivacious women in Silicon Valley and in the Bay Area, hands down. While I’ve continued to find new ways to volunteer to this growing organization, I’ve also had two children, published a book, worked with some great technology companies, and have been part of some very innovative projects at Women in Consulting. When I look back at all my volunteering efforts, I’ve learned that I’ve been allowed to hone some very important skills that are critical to the success of any business.

Below, I’ve outlined five key volunteer skills that I think are beneficial to help you drive your business, increase partnerships and help you become a more effective leader, consultant and businesswoman:

1. Collaboration
When you volunteer, you end up collaborating with many people to reach a common goal. Collaboration is a large part of what makes an all-volunteer organization successful and it helps to keep all members involved in important decisions. Women are great collaborators and the more you collaborate, the better team-player you can be for your clients and your future clients. Collaboration skills are an excellent way to meet new people, friendships and work with more clients. People who collaborate are effective leaders and tend to listen more. They also tend to do well in any organization, regardless of size because they respect others, and they
inspire individuals to work together to reach new levels of success.

2. Support
When you volunteer, you have an opportunity to gain a new support network. In a volunteer role, you’ll meet other like-minded individuals who are passionate about helping an organization grow and you may find that your new volunteer colleagues are perfect candidates to not only support you in your project efforts, but they may also be perfect candidates to help give you some feedback on that next new venture or client proposal in your own business. You also learn that as a volunteer, sometimes you are playing a larger support role and sometimes you are receiving the support. Whatever the case may be, the support you discover you have can allow you to be inspired to continued volunteer efforts and motivate you to open new doors to client projects that you may have not considered before. Mastering the the many facets of how support can help a project or organization can make you a more understanding consultant, business partner and business professional.

3. Innovation
Innovation drives technology companies and it also drives volunteer organizations. Without innovative ideas and processes, things cannot progress. New members bring new ideas and unique ways of thinking and this is important in the growth of an all-volunteer organization. What’s especially great about volunteering is that if you have an innovative process idea or technology, there’s most likely an opportunity to push the envelope and try out your ideas. At Women In Consulting, we’ve always tried to tap into the most cutting-edge processes and tools to motivate and inspire our members. Some of our greatest new ideas have come from volunteer efforts and many of them are new volunteers who aren’t afraid to try something new. Innovation drives growth and it helps to drive businesses to be the best they can be.

4.Building Relationships
When you volunteer for an organization, you build relationships with new colleagues, potential partners and possibly your next customer. I’ve known volunteers who have changed their career focus because of a volunteer they’ve been inspired by or worked with. Relationships matter in the business world and you have an incredible opportunity to develop new relationships with people who share your same values and work ethic when volunteering. I’ve met many new people in my volunteer years, some of who have become my closest friends and colleagues and some have become mentors that I still turn to for advice and suggestions. Relationships you develop while volunteering can last a lifetime and can be a wonderful source of reference and testimonial for you with your potential and existing clients.

5. Creative Problem-Solving
There’s never a shortage for creative ideas in an all-volunteer organization! When I first started volunteering with WIC, I realized I had some good, solid ideas that could help the organization grow and prosper. I remember making a small suggestion that turned into my first volunteer project. When you find creative solutions to a problem, people want you to lead and they are eager to watch you lead. This is what WIC is about-if you’ve got an idea to change something, you will always have an opportunity to use that creativity in a volunteer role. You may not get the chance to be creative with all your existing clients, but when you volunteer, you may get to try something new that allows you to explore your creative problem-solving skills. You also may get the chance to lead and solve problems in a part of a business that you haven’t explored before, making you more well-rounded and adaptable for prospective clients and customers.

I challenge you to explore the many benefits of volunteering in your career and find ways to give back to your community. Once you’ve started down the
volunteering path you’ll realize that many of the skills you’ve been wanting to develop in your career may be in your own backyard and available to you today.

For information on how to volunteer with Women In Consulting, contact WIC’s Membership Director, Deborah Hoard: dhoard@get-net-results.com

sherry_prescott@yahoo.com' About Sherry Prescott

Sherry helps high-technology organizations meet their strategic goals through effective channels, alliance, and marketing programs. She’s led workshops based on her award-winning book, Market This!: An Effective 90-Day Marketing Tool.

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