There are many activities vying for everyone's time, and there are many reasons for selecting the activities in which to participate. Then there are priorities: family, friends, work, and more. With all the opportunities for spending the little time we all have, why volunteer?
The reasons may be purely altruistic. However, there are some real tangible personal and career benefits too.
I volunteer for two professional organizations for very similar reasons: The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Why? At first to learn about the industry, then to build my network, and now to help pay back all that I have gained. I learned a lot from very many people during my career and volunteering for these organizations is one way to pay for that education. My payment is an attempt to teach the next generation and help them learn the little bit that I know in hopes that the entire industry is better off.
Associations offer a nearly instant, powerful and far-reaching network. Member access to that network is limitless. The advantages a large network can bring are tremendous: recognition, influence, and employment.
As a member, I attend the local, regional, and national meetings. My goal is to expand my personal network. I want to find other individuals that can help me and my clients when needed. I can't know everything. But I can know someone else to call, someone that may know himself, or may know who else to call.
That scenario was how I landed one of my early career jobs. I answered an ad for a position in New England while living in Pennsylvania. I called a CSI friend to ask about employment conditions in his area. He tried to answer my questions, but suggested I call another CSI member (one I did not know) for more help. After a 90 minute phone call, I had an interview scheduled with the other member and ultimately a new job. I never did get a response to the ad I answered. Instead, I got the opportunity that prepared me for starting my own business.
Simply attending a meeting is not enough. Participate! Contribute! I try to get to know the other members and everyone else attending. I feel like my mother at Thanksgiving, wanting to be sure she spends time with every family member, individually, before it's time to say goodbye. I want to build my network and reinforce relationships every chance I have.
Amazingly, the network responds and actually helps ensure I succeed. Often the network goes out of its way to actively assist in my success. I know I could never hire or buy this level of support. And it is all "free" for the time it takes to volunteer, to show up, and to get involved.
So when asked to join, when asked to volunteer, what will your answer be? Will you go it alone or will you begin building your own network for your personal success?
So, here is your chance to try it for yourself. Until November 22nd, CSI is offering a 20% discount on the national professional membership dues. You can join now to take advantage of the savings.
Log onto www.csinet.org/join
- Select "Join Now", and then click "Sign Up as a New Member"
- Enter Promotion Code CSIsocial13 when prompted
- Click the "Add Discount" button
Remember to join a local chapter, too, where you can attend education sessions and networking opportunities (chapter dues are not included in this promotional offer).