hands ring teamwork

Launch your career by building your network — heard that before? Start networking and establishing long-term relationships with individuals in your field to see your career grow and expand. Careerbuilder.com explains that successful networking is the art of sharing your value and how you’re helpful. But where do you begin? Try volunteering.

Opens Doors of Opportunity

One avid volunteer found not one, but three jobs directly as a result of her volunteer work. As a volunteer, she got to know organizations from the inside and met key individuals who put her on a short list of candidates when the organization was hiring. By no means will all volunteer positions lead to paid jobs, but many companies like to hire from within, and a volunteer can be as well-known “within” an organization as a paid employee.

Hones Skills

If you are new to your field, you need practical, hands-on experience. But what if you’re not looking for a career in a non-profit? Imagine you specialize in Web design, computer programming or finance, and you want to work for a large tech firm. Charitable organizations need Web, finance and computer expertise and services. Organizations, such as Bankers Without Borders or the Taproot Foundation, match non-profits with professional volunteers who have specific skill sets. Worthy causes receive the needed services and new or transitioning professionals gain valuable learning experiences. You can build a portfolio and develop real-world skills in a non-academic setting. Whether you build a website or plan an event, your work will show for itself, and the experience can be an opportunity to develop critical leadership skills as well.

Provides Referrals & Connections

As you become more connected to an organization, the people you work closely with can become referrals who will vouch for your work ethic and skills. High-powered corporate executives are also philanthropists. For example, Bob Parsons, CEO of Go-Daddy, runs a foundation that donates $20 million to several charities, including Hope for Haiti, Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center and Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS. You never know who you may rub elbows with when you roll up your sleeves and give your time to a worthy cause.

Networks Without Looking Like an Opportunist

As an active volunteer, you become a valuable source and contributor — not just someone who is “schmoozing.” While volunteering, focus on your philanthropic work, and as a result, you’ll build trust within the organization. People who you work with will naturally be happy to endorse you.

There’s no guarantee that you will be called out of the blue with a job offer because you volunteer. Keep in mind volunteering is just an opportunity to help others while exposing your excellent work ethic and great character.