Volunteer to Quickly Make New ConnectionsFriday, June 22nd, 2012
Just today, I participated in an association-sponsored volunteer event at a food pantry. During the three hours I spent packing peas and corn, I got to chatting with four other people. By the end of the time, I felt like I knew them all fairly well. If I had been looking for a job, I absolutely would have felt comfortable mentioning it. Where else other than volunteering can you bond with people from four different organizations in such a short period of time?
Of course, it doesn’t always happen like that, but you’d be surprised how often it does. As with school and the workplace, whenever a group works on a project, those involved get to talking. If you’re not in school and are currently unemployed, you probably won’t have many of these opportunities. Volunteering gives you a chance to connect with others while in transition.
The same rules for networking apply here – ask questions, get to know the person, offer help, exchange business cards, and connect on LinkedIn afterwards. If you continue to see each other great – you’ll be able to build a stronger relationship. But, even short-term projects give people an opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level than through a traditional networking event.
How do you choose where to volunteer? First, think about your interests – there’s bound to be an organization for whatever it is you’re passionate about! Second, locate the places that serve these interests by doing a Google search with your location (i.e. Volunteer with animals, Chicago), or checking out VolunteerMatch.org. If your first experience isn’t what you hoped for, don’t give up – there’s truly something for everyone, and you just have to find what works for you!