As I referenced in a previous post, it is never to early to start building your network and (re)discovering your career strategy. One way to do this, as Peter Bregman suggests also, is by giving away your time and effort through volunteering. Recently, and somewhat unexpectedly, I followed this advice by meeting with some folks who are leading a start-up food business called Beer Bites.
As the beautiful and virtually content free-website suggests, we are in the very early stages of product and business development and there is lots to do. At the end of my first meeting, I joined the ops team and will be helping secure the ~50 Boston area bars and lounges who will pilot the launch of Beer Bites. Shameless plug: email me at email@example.com to learn more or get involved!
This experience helped clarify four specific ways that giving can help anyone get a better job, no matter how soon:
- You will learn quickly by being out of your comfort zone. Regardless of the size of the organization you help, or the specific work that you do, you will be learning quickly. Everyone you volunteer with will have more knowledge or experience (or both) than you in some regard, which will help you grow and become a more attractive candidate for your next role.
- You will build more weak ties quickly — the most important links in your network. This is a core principle of Gladwell’s as well as anyone else who understands networking, because you will gain access to more unique contacts.
- You will demonstrate the depth of your character, which goes well beyond any online interaction. Beyond getting a few hours of sunshine and fresh air, getting away from the computer screen will show the people you meet about your values, your work ethic, and your capabilities in a much more genuine way.
- You will get a bunch of new ideas about what you do (and do not) want in your next role. Simply talking to the other folks you’re volunteering with about their experiences will provide a lot of food for thought. The extent to which you enjoy your volunteer work will also become a source of feedback. My experience with Beer Bites so far has affirmed that I want business development and marketing to be a part of what I do next: I don’t care what you say, cold calling is just plain fun!
What have you gained from a recent volunteer experience? Or maybe it went horribly wrong? Leave a comment and let me know.