People often ask me what I do for professional development. People want to know what I’m doing to fire up my career and profits? The most surprising answer is volunteering.
It’s one thing to attend a retreat, conference or workshop to gain skills and knowledge. That’s just for you. But when you volunteer, you get the opportunity to learn and apply that knowledge. You’re also giving back and helping others grow too. Volunteering allows you to gain resume building skills that your employer or current employment doesn’t provide.
I currently volunteer for several organizations including the National Speakers Association, our town’s local little league and for the Non-Profit Hustle PHX / Hustle USA where I serve as the Board Chair. I love this picture with my fellow Hustle PHX Board Members at our annual Fundraiser. All of these people give unselfishly to help others, but here’s a little secret…
Volunteering is a two way street. You’re sharing your time, talent and treasures, but you’re also receiving. Here are a few skills I have gained volunteering has helped me build my resume while growing personally and professionally:
- Leadership - It’s one thing to read about how to be a leader, but when you volunteer and assume a leadership role, you gain practical knowledge and experience on what it’s like to be a leader. You also gain respect for what it takes to be a leader.
- Networking - Life is about building and cultivating relationships. Most of my career success comes from the relationships I have developed. Work opportunities, travel tips, financial advice, activities for my kids and where to take my wife for special getaway are the perks of fostering new relationships.
- Business Knowledge - Working to start a business or improve your business? My financial and business acumen went to new levels when I joined several boards. Not only would I be responsible for the finances of a non-profit, but I learned how to better understand my finances too.
- Growth Mindset - The mindset of positive people working to make a change in the world is contagious. It’s amazing how your productivity improves when you’re around other people who are focused on providing a solution, not just pointing out a problem.
- Public Speaking - When you volunteer, many times you have to speak in public to encourage people to join your mission or to educate them on the mission of your organization. I was quiet and shy before volunteering to join several student organizations in college.
- Teaching, Mentoring and Coaching - It’s one thing to achieve tasty results for yourself, but the ability to teach, mentor or coach others to cook up tasty results in their personal and professional lives is a special skill very few have.
- Marketing - Writing posts like this is something I learned by volunteering. Writing, photography, website design, slides development, brochure design, and so much more, all learned by sitting in many committee meetings for events and organization promotion.
- Sales and Fundraising - Being able to ask people for money confidently is a scary proposition for many. But when you understand how to make the process relational versus transactional, you’ll have the ability to transform your results and the bottom line for the organization you’re volunteering for.
All of the skills I shared above I don’t only keep for myself, I share them with the organizations I volunteer for. I also share the knowledge and experience in my speeches, books and posts like this.