Grow your network by volunteering
If you’re like most people that attend networking events, you may be looking for ways to expand and grow your network, make new connections faster, and generate leads. One of the best ways to do this other than attending great networking events in the first place is to volunteer for them.
Over the years of my personal experience, volunteering has been one of the secrets over how I’ve grown my business network relationships so quickly. Here are some benefits of volunteering at networking events that you may not been aware of.
1. Getting involved gets you connected
When you volunteer, you are usually placed with a lot of the main movers and shakers of an event. Many people that create events are well connected and respected in their communities and by simply volunteering you get to help them (and they may return the favor someday), you get to help the event, and you will find that volunteering increases your personal brand awareness. The more the word gets out about who you are and what you’re doing for an event, you will be more often thought of and introduced to new connections and leads.
2. You get to test the market
Sometimes people are a little cautious where they spend their time and what kind of people and events they associate themselves with. It’s always great to do your research before committing yourself to volunteering, but once you’ve chosen an event to assist, you’ll find volunteering sometimes helps you get a sense for what kind of event it will be like, what kind of people run it, whether you’d like to be associated with the event in the long run.
You will learn all kinds of things over how operations run, too. Best of all, the volunteering scene often runs a more relaxed pace where you will have multiple opportunities to chat and connect with other volunteers. A more relaxed environment often allows you to get into deeper conversations with people and build stronger connections than if you just met them at a networking event.
3. Good exercise in leadership and networking
All of us have our days where we are feeling shy or we just want to relax and we don’t want to have to be ‘on’. Volutneering provides a lower pressure setting where you don’t have to commit as much to getting into conversations, but you still get to be around people. If you are shy or introverted, volunteering can be a good stepping stone towards connecting with people and networking more regularly.
4. Quality of conversations during an event gets better
When you are volunteering for an event, it is often assumed that you have (1) elevated status, (2) you know something about the event that others don’t, and (3) are more connected than other individuals in the room.
Because of all of these assumptions people make, it is good to let people know in a subtle way that you are associated with the event production during the main networking event. When you get into conversations, you’ll notice people take you more seriously, they will attempt to help you out more or volunteer larger resources your way. In addition to this benefit, mentioning that you are volunteering for the event when you are networking can help you to continue conversations you want to be in. It is one more interesting topic to talk about and explore with people.
5. It’s great to help others
When you volunteer, it is often the gift that keeps on giving in long term. The process of volunteering can be rewarding in and of itself. Helping others definitely can warm people’s hearts; however, there are additional benefits.
Helping others helps them to remember and think of you and what you do for next time. If you seem like a nice, personable, non-threating, friendly, and kind person when you’re volunteering and helping out for the event, the event organizers and other volunteers may think of you first next time they come across a business opportunity or a strategic connection for you. People have an easier time doing business with those kinds of people and they tend to remember them.