Along the way, I've found that volunteering is a great way to build friends and gain recognition in my industry, and today I've put together a few examples to show you what I've learned.
Please note that I'm not suggesting that you should volunteer in order to receive these things in return. I'm saying that you should volunteer because it's good and awesome and what makes the world a better place. And as an extra added incentive, you may experience a few of these other things too as a cosmic reward for your good behavior.
Five Benefits of Volunteering in Your Industry
- The Backstage Pass - Volunteering for industry events is a good way to get full access to the event without having to pay. I recently attended Social Media Breakfast for free in exchange for setting up a few chairs and running registration. (Side note: Running registration provided the secondary benefit of refreshing me on the names and faces of all attendees as they selected their name badges from the registration table. Also, people tend to treat you very well when it's 8am and you tell them there's coffee and breakfast around the corner.)
- The Fast-Track to Presenting - Conference organizers love volunteers they can rely on. Prove yourself on the tasks you're asked to perform, and organizers might just ask you to present at a future event. I started off pouring coffee at the first Minnesota Blogger's Conference, but went on to present at two subsequent events.
- Wonderful, Wonderful Link Equity - Blogging for organizations is a great way to build links and search engine equity to your own websites. It's customary for guest bloggers to include a byline in their articles with a link or two to their blog or website. Building links through volunteering your time builds relationships as well, and sure beats begging for links from strangers.
- Co-Branding to Build Your Personal Brand- When you volunteer for organizations, people begin to associate you with the brands you serve, and these brands have built up very powerful personalities and values in the minds of their consumers. Think about what people might learn about or attribute to you just by looking at a list of the logos of the organizations you support.
- Build a Community Around Your Passion - Perhaps one of the best things about volunteering in your industy is that you support the growth and development of those within it. Nothing progresses a people more than education and organization from within. Be a part of making something great because you care about it.
These are just some of the benefits that come from volunteering in your industry, in addition to all the intangible benefits that come from giving back. Why do you volunteer and what are some of the unexpected rewards you've seen as a result of paying it forward?