27 June 2016
When building your professional network, it can often feel like you are assembling building blocks without any instructions. Eventually, you should have something to show for your effort, but it can be difficult to determine if you are on the right path. In the case of establishing positive and beneficial relationships, networking events and coffee meetings are good places to start, but these occasions can sometimes be limited to small talk. This might not allow you to get very far when hoping to develop a trusting rapport. If you often find yourself in that situation, it may take more than a happy hour event to build your professional connections. However, you can still grow a network of hard-working professionals that will endorse you and your work in the future—by volunteering. Although volunteering is a larger time commitment, it has undeniable benefits. Here are four reasons to consider volunteering to build your network: You’re actually getting work experience What’s more important than a professional connection when landing your next job? The proper experience to do the job, of course. Rather than focusing on building your rolodex, concentrate on filling out your resume with volunteer opportunities. By prioritizing volunteer opportunities, you can place your focus on developing important soft skills and gaining excellent experience while your network grows as you work with the people around you. You’re organically building deeper relationships Through working side-by-side with other volunteers and supervisors, you’ll be able to form stronger relationships. Rather than sticking to small talk, you’ll have a built-in conversation topic through the work you, your supervisors, or other volunteers are doing. When you put in time on a regular basis, you’ll be more likely to cement a familiar relationship. Because of this, your connections from volunteering may be much more likely to recommend you for a new opportunity since they know more about your personality and work ethic. You’re meeting people with different backgrounds Whether or not you’re volunteering within your industry, you truly never know whom you will meet. Not only could your supervisors be well-connected, but your fellow volunteers may come from many different backgrounds. They could introduce you to important people, or perhaps they can shed light on a new career path that you hadn’t considered before. If you keep an open mind, you could find an array of new opportunities and valuable relationships. You’re showing your passion for your work When you give your time on a regular basis without asking for anything in return, you’re showing those you work with that you genuinely care. Not only does this prove dedication and commitment to your new acquaintances, it also shows these same desirable qualities to potential employers.