How Volunteering Helped Me Develop My Professional Skills
I am both an introvert and shy, so I always found networking very difficult. But when I’m volunteering, I’m there for a reason, I’m passionate about the cause, and it seems easy to talk to someone else who’s interested in the same way. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people this way, and even came in touch with a couple of job opportunities (which didn’t work out, but I made great contacts). Some of the people I’ve met through my volunteers’ group are now good friends.
2. Public speaking
If networking scared me, try speaking in front of fifty people. But I’ve done that many times now, helped by the fact that most of those people were much younger and more scared than me (the students we work with: mostly teenagers and a few in their early twenties). Don’t get me wrong, it was still scary at first. But I talked to them, I presented on topics that might help them professionally, and it got easier each time.
Everyone needs selling skills, and a marketing professional needs them even more. This wasn’t something I thought I could do well, but then I worked at fund-raising and sat behind the counter at one of our handicraft sales. The surprise: I enjoyed it! The most important lesson I learned here: if you’re passionate about the product, you are a much better salesperson.
4. Managing teams
Being in marketing means I have always worked in small teams, so it’s been an added advantage to add to my experience in this area through volunteering. I’ve coordinated projects, organized events, managed activities. Doing it for a small volunteer-run non-profit was an easy way to try: even if I failed spectacularly, everyone was likely to be more understanding.