Join the Board and Grow Your Network
Volunteering has for many years been a strategy for aspiring socialites, self-made millionaires, corporate executives climbing the ladder and Solopreneur consultants to expand and enhance their social and specialized networks. Serving on the right board Board gives opportunities to build strategic relationships, acquire social credibility, learn new skills and sustain a worthy cause as you do. Volunteering is the best way to do well by doing good and your monetary donations are tax-deductible.
The Machiavellian among us may choose an organization that appears to have either the best business networking or social-climbing possible (or both!), but I suggest that those in search of a good volunteer opportunity start with a list of causes that are meaningful to you. If you’re not sure where to start, consider volunteering at your alma mater, your children’s school, or the local Rotary Club.
Board service is at the top of the volunteer pyramid and not everyone is invited to participate at that level. However, most not-for-profit organizations keep up an annual fundraising event and additional day-of-event volunteer help is sometimes needed. That tactic would give you a backstage look at the organization, its leadership team and the board, in action and celebrating the vision and mission.
You can meet and work with one or two board members, meet the Executive Director and decide if you’d like to speak with someone about the possibility of joining the board. Be advised that many boards come with an expected level of financial sustain that can reach four-figure sums (and beyond). Visit the organization’s website and ask to speak with the Development or Marketing Director about short-term volunteer opportunities.
There are also corporate boards on which one may serve, but those groups are for the very well-connected and influential. A path to (paid) corporate board service might begin with relationships developed during (unpaid) not-for-profit board service, but one nevertheless must have very great specialized credentials and leadership-level job titles. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you contemplate your role as a volunteer:
Choose the right organization
You’ll feel happier donating your skills and money to an organization whose mission you strongly sustain and that should guide your choice. Your work on the board should feel like a privilege and not a chore.
Take your commitment to the board or committee seriously if you expect to be taken seriously by the influencers you hope to impress. Make time to complete your board or committee responsibilities on time. Be enthusiastic, if not passionate, and a good team player. If you’re fortunate enough to be asked to chair a committee, graciously proportion credit for success with your committee members.
While your volunteering may have at its chief your specialized or social agenda, you must nonetheless approach volunteer service as one who wants to contribute and make a positive difference. Keep the organization’s mission and goals in mind, along with your own. Raise your hand when leadership opportunities present themselves. Demonstrate how your rare skill set benefits the organization.
Be a passionate visionary
As a board member, it will be your responsibility to permit the organization to realize long-term goals that precisely mirror and permit the vision and mission. Suggest that strategic planning be done, so that meaningful staff members can join with the board and map out possible strategies for the future. In any case, bring your creative energy and functional insights to every board meeting.
Be a team player
Make yourself look good and create the conditions wherein your fellow board and committee members will experience satisfaction in their service and find more success for yourself as you do. Inspire fellow board and committee members to do their best work by modeling that behavior yourself. Always concede the good work and dedication of others on your committee and the board.
When you follow the guidelines detailed above, you will discriminate yourself as a superior board member who is a real asset to the organization. Influencers who are in a position to refer those with your specialty will no doubt be eager to refer a colleague whose work they can personally endorse and your Solopreneur consultancy will reap the rewards.
Thanks for reading,