From the Editor

How volunteering makes us better business leaders

Right off the bat, let me say that there is more to this than the altruistic aspect –although that’s not to be sniffed at. Of course, as leaders we want to set a great example. In my experience, volunteering offers opportunities to network and to widen ourskillset too. Here are 4 great side-effects of volunteering that you might not have thought about.

Expanding your reach
Volunteering is a great way to expand your network of connections, without needing to attend organised networking. Personally, I’ve never enjoyed those networking events where you give your elevator pitch and your business card to everyone you meet.

I know this works for some people, but it’s just not my thing. The best connections I’ve ever made, in business and in my personal life, have come from
more organic interactions. While volunteering alongside new people, you get to see so much more of who they really are. You might meet your next team
member, make a valuable connection that leads to further introductions – or, you might just learn something new about working with people.

When people volunteer, they are not motivated by money, but rather they are inspired by their passion for the cause. There might be some things to learn here that can be plugged into your own business.

Discovering “spare” time
As business people, and especially as Entrepreneurs, time is our most finite resource. For that reason it is something that we often covet and repeatedly tell ourselves that we just don’t have enough of.

Volunteering is all about giving our time. And you know what? When we are more generous with that resource, we begin to realize that we do have some to spare, and this in turn shifts our perspective.

Fundraising flexes our finance muscles
Whether emailing a database with marketing copy for your charity, or shaking a tin at an event, fundraising makes us up our money-making game.
When we are asking for donations, then just like with selling a product or service, we need to think about the whole funnel. This is an exercise in planning the whole donor journey, from where they will see your call to action, to how their donation will be processed.

Personally, I‘ve set myself a big fundraising goal this year as a way to push myself out of my comfort zone. Even though I’ve been in sales and marketing for 6 years now, I still have a little discomfort in asking for money. This has manifested in my business as undercharging for my services, and at the end of the financial year I do kick myself sometimes!

So for me, asking for money for a good cause is helping me work on that.

Getting back to basics
Manual tasks, let’s say cleaning out animal cages at a rescue centre for example, are great for problem solving. Doing a physical task is a great way to get out of your head for a bit, and give your pre-frontal cortex a little break.

Typically when we stop trying so hard to problem solve, answers start to come to us. So losing yourself in a manual task for a few hours could be really beneficial. A change is as good as a rest; and this is especially true if you find it hard to flip the off switch and just relax in your free time. So volunteering can also help you to wind things down after an intense week of work.

So there you have it – some great business reasons to stretch yourself by volunteering for a good cause.

Sarah Brandis is a social media and content marketing consultant, mentor, trainer and author helping solo entrepreneurs launch their businesses through her Inner Sanctum program. Support Sarah’s Blue Cross for Pets fundraising campaign to help pets in need here.

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