My name is Carie and I am a serial volunteer. The truth is, I’ve always had a penchant for volunteer work. Organizing events for Teens Against Dystrophy as a young girl. Spending hours every Sunday reading to, and visiting with, residents at a nearby nursing home during high school. Assisting on a weekly basis in the ICU Waiting Room at a local hospital as a 20-something adult. Not to mention the countless fundraising and charity events along the way. Honestly, it would be nearly impossible to recall each and every activity for which I have volunteered throughout my lifetime. Yet, oddly enough, never did I realize my affinity for volunteer work might one day translate into a strategic and integral portion of my professional life. That is – until now.
Whether you find yourself overflowing with business, going through a transition, or somewhere in-between – volunteering is nothing short of "Win/Win." As I travel the winding roads of reinvention myself, I recognize that volunteering for business-related entities is an effective way to expand and enhance my professional horizons. For example, I currently serve on a special events committee for a local association chapter, maintain the website for a local nonprofit organization, and regularly assist with social media workshops sponsored by a local, not-for-profit, employment resource center. Not surprisingly, there are seemingly endless associations and organizations from which to choose. But, here's the best part: When people see you on a regular basis – connections are created based on familiarity and trust. And, in my opinion, the most meaningful connections – personal or professional – are primarily based on familiarity and trust.
Will I still serve holiday meals to homeless veterans, sort donated groceries at the food bank, or otherwise raise my hand in times of need? Absolutely. Volunteering is certainly a selfless and compassionate way to assist those who are less fortunate. However, volunteer endeavors need not be approached solely from this perspective. Rather, volunteering is an exceptional way to build significant professional relationships. And these relationships are, as we all know, crucial to our professional well-being. The late, great, incomparable Zig Ziglar famously quoted: "You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want." Sounds good to me. Meanwhile, one of my good friends thinks I volunteer too much. Fair enough. Even so, I'll continue to sign up for stuff – because that's just who I am.