Networking is for everyone. It’s for the person who is unemployed and looking for a new opportunity. It’s for the business owner who wants to grow their business. And it’s for the working professionals who just want to expand their network. There are a lot of different ways to network. Attending business events, alumni happy hours, coffee meetings, and relevant seminars can be a great way to start building your professional network. But over time, it can start to feel repetitive. You may find yourself continuing to make small talk, and never build deeper relationships.
If you’re looking for a chance to create more meaningful relationships with other like-minded working professionals, volunteering may be the way to go. Now we’re not talking about the casual volunteer who spends a single afternoon at an event, but rather a focused commitment to volunteering on a regular basis.
Here are 5 ways volunteering can actually be a form of networking, which ultimately will help your job search efforts.
Volunteering gives you actual work experience.
Whether it’s building on your technical skills, polishing up your soft skills, or enhancing your leadership style, volunteering gives you the opportunity to fill in the gaps in your resume.
It is a natural way to build relationships.
Once deeper relationships are built, you will reap the rewards from them. These people can testify to your experience and skills, recommend you for jobs, and keep you informed about opportunities in your field.
Opportunities to meet a lot of different types of people.
Volunteering gives you the chance to cross paths with people in your community you may not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. Interacting with new people on a regular basis is an eye-opening experience that can help guide your future career path.
Volunteering can expose you to a new field or industry.
If you are thinking of switching careers or entering a new industry, volunteering can be a way to get your foot in the door. Not only will you be exposed to the new line of work, but you have the chance to make some valuable connections. After all, we all know how interconnected many industries and job markets really are.
A history of volunteering shows passion and dedication.
Employers want their employees to have these character traits, as they are often the ones who are more effective and engaged workers.
Are you ready to give volunteering a try? Try contacting a local non-profit in your area today to begin.