Slouches Don’t Volunteer
My parents embedded a lot of worthy values in their children: faith, family, friends and the Red Sox—and not always in that order. We had few family meetings, as ours was not a Democratic household.
But for one conversation, Dad and Mom were intent on including my brother, sister and me: Contributions. Simply put, you give a percentage of your income and a percentage of your time. Period! Where and how much is up to you (Dad would say, “That’s between you and your God.”). That’s just who we are and what we do.
The message took. I’ve coached and bake-sale’d and walk-a-thon’ed and Vestry’d, so I think I can check that one off of the Bucket List. What I’ve come to find out is, in addition to the obvious benefits, there is one that Dad and Mom didn’t cover—Slouches don’t volunteer. That is, the 10% that do 90% of the work are not only quality individuals, they are people you want to know!
For example, I recently ended my reign as president of the Duxbury Youth Softball program. As one particular meeting droned on, I remember glancing down at the e-mail addresses of those in attendance: Bank of Boston, Children’s Hospital, Talbots, Novartis...Wow! The people in this room are players. If I were a print sales rep, I’d be passing out business cards like crazy!
Since then, with every volunteer organization I have either helped run or been a part of—The Pan Mass Challenge, the Jett Foundation, Island Creek Oyster Festival, etc.—it’s been the same story: Presidents, VPs of Marketing, and a general C-level smorgasbord of volunteers. It’d be like shooting ducks in a barrel! Even though I don’t sell print, I still expand my network via LinkedIn. You never know!
One volunteer gig leads to another (see below*), and the story is always the same. I doubt that you’ll ever find the suggestion, “Go volunteer!” in a book on prospecting, so a quick blog will have to suffice: GO VOLUNTEER!
- Do it because it is the right thing to do.
- Do it because you want to give back.
- And do it because you are no slouch!
But as you are stuffing envelopes, biking 192 miles or painting your church, keep your eyes open and work the following question into your conversations: “Tell me, what do you do for work?” Networking is not the reason to get involved, it’s just an ancillary benefit.
One more thing: Mom and Dad are 86 and 87. Dad can’t help out the way he once could, so he’s found a new way to fill his need to give of himself: He seeks out and participates in medical studies on the elderly, driving weekly into Boston to be poked and prodded for the good of others. If you asked him what the ancillary benefits are, he’d wink at you and answer, “Where else can you get a team of attractive nurses to pay you so much attention?”
You’ve gotta love the guy!
[* As a side note, the interesting thing about volunteering is that if you are good at it, you get LOTS of invitations to help; but if you are irresponsible, no one calls. That’s an odd incentive program, don’t you think?]
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Bill Farquharson is a respected industry expert and highly sought after speaker known for his energetic and entertaining presentations. Bill engages his audiences with wit and wisdom earned as a 40-year print sales veteran while teaching new ideas for solving classic sales challenges. Email him at email@example.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault, are available at salesvault.pro.