Often when I am speaking with an audience or sharing ideas with leaders and entrepreneurs, I hear a question that starts like this: “How did you get people to give you a chance to …”
It’s a recurring theme. We want to lead. We want to grow. We want to make a a difference. So, how do we get people to give us a chance to do it? In 2010, I had the opportunity to share ideas with the Society of Women Engineers. We we focused on the 5 C’s that build success. One of those C’s is Community. Here is what happens when you get involved in your community and volunteer.
Lead – Grow – Volunteer
We don’t need to be labeled “a leader” to lead. Just as we don’t need someone else’s permission to develop our skills and grow. What we do need are opportunities to showcase our leadership ability and talents. Although are not many fairy godmothers out there who can wave a magic wand and make an opportunity materialize before our very eyes, there is something we can do that works like magic and makes us feel great too. One simple word. Volunteer.
Over the years, through a number of volunteer activities, I have had the opportunity to share ideas on network television, land radio interviews, be profiled in newspapers and magazines and connect with key decision makers, customers and partners who I might otherwise have never met. By volunteering to do what I could do, I got the chance to do it. People noticed and more opportunities followed. Those opportunities created more opportunities. Pretty soon, I was not just leading, I was doing it officially as “the leader.” It all came about because of volunteer work done in my community or where I worked. If it can work for me, it can work for you. Just follow these two simple steps.
Establish yourself as a leader.
A leader is someone who stands out above the rest. We all have talents that we can share that help us to stand out. Perhaps your talent is organization, team building, networking, writing, or simply listening. Maybe your gift is mentoring, speaking, or a special set of technical or business skills Think of ways that sharing these talents and gifts can help a nonprofit organization that you believe in. Step up, stand out and lead in whatever role you are given.
Roll up your sleeves and show ’em what you can do.
In today’s economy, nonprofit budgets are stretched to the limit. There is almost nothing they do not need. Does your business have great consumer products or services? Donate them to gift baskets, silent auctions or raffles. Do you provide business services? Donate them to the nonprofit itself to help in reducing overhead costs. In each case you are getting yourself and your products or services in front of others who may want to work with you in the future. Often this is the supporters, board members, donors, or sponsors of the organization. The nonprofit may not have the resources to pay for your donations and services, but these people do. When you do a great job or deliver a great product, people notice and even better… they tell their friends.
Volunteering is not only a philanthropic activity. In our workplace, there are lots of opportunities to step forward and volunteer. Perhaps it is on a committee, in a new project that looks a little risky, or even to give a customer a hand on a project that they are not able to pay you for. Sometimes when we take on one more project, we feel we keep giving and giving and nothing is happening. But that is NOT the case.
Here comes the magic…
While you are giving you are also growing both in experience and influence. The more you give, the more you get.
While you are sharing what you have of value, you are getting value too…
New skills you learn while working with others in your community or workplace.
Connections to other leaders who share the same passions and values that you do.
Recognition for your efforts and the value you contribute to the cause or project.
Visibility for yourself and your business
The opportunity to represent the organization in your community
The chance you thought someone needed to give you. You did not need someone to give it to you after all. You gave it to yourself.
That’s the great thing about magic. It makes anything possible.
Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned…
Please join me with Lolly Daskal and the gang on the #LeadFromWithin Tweet Chat this Tuesday (February 15, 2011) at 8 PM EST.
This is my chance to volunteer and help lead the discussion with a group of wonderful people from around the Twitterverse on how to #LeadFromWithin. Lolly and I talked about it and decided that exchanging ideas on what happens to us as leaders when we volunteer was a perfect topic for the day after Valentine’s day. I hope you will volunteer to join us, roll up your sleeves and show us what YOU can do by adding your ideas to the tweet chat discussion. It’s easy to do and free of charge. Just sign in with your Twitter ID at www.TweetChat.com at 8PM EST on 2/27/2011. Put in the #LeadFromWithin hashtag at the top and when I post a question – share an answer. See you then.
Joan Koerber-Walker is a two time Stevie Award National Finalist and Chairman of the Board of CorePurpose, Inc. and the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation. She also serves as Executive in Residence for Callaman Ventures and on the boards of for profit and nonprofit organizations. As the former CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association and a past member of the Board of Trustees of the National Small Business Association she has worked with hundreds of small businesses and on behalf of thousands. Chat with her on Twitter as @joankw, @JKWgrowth, @JKWinnovation, @JKWleadership and@CorePurpose or at her blog at www.JoanKoerber-Walker.com.