Because one of the free agent’s biggest
challenges is finding enough work, I decided to write about the
incredible value of volunteering. I thought back, and can confirm
that close to 90% of the work I do and have done in the past has
come my way because of a volunteer connection.
Start by joining a group or organization in the
field of your interest and then volunteer your talents. Yes, it
does take time and effort, but I submit to you that you will get
more business this way than ever doing the dreaded cold calling,
direct mailing, and/or advertising. First of all, people like to
do business with those they know and like. Secondly, if you have
proved your credibility by doing what you commit to, you will stand
out from all of the rest. I became a newspaper editor after writing
as a volunteer for the paper for less than two years. Volunteer
work is never a waste of time, and it is also a great way to meet
potential clients and/or those who will recommend you to potential
If you are going to volunteer, make sure that you
will be dependable and will always go “the extra mile.”
Never, never say you will do something and then not follow through.
When you do follow through, make sure that what you are doing is
topnotch. You will be amazed at how quickly the word will leak out
about the job you do and your expertise. It is unfortunate that
so many volunteers do not choose to do an exemplary job. This fact
is what makes your quality work stand out above the rest. Remember
that the impression you make will follow you forever.
Know when to volunteer for “free” and
when to start charging. Yes, there is a time and place for free
volunteer work. But there is also a time and place for charging.
For example, one of the groups to which I belong and where I have
devoted many volunteer hours, needed a website. I gave them a proposal
in which I lowered my usual fees -- making note, however, of the
break they were getting -- and even though my price was higher than
those of other proposals submitted, I was chosen to do the website.
Realize that volunteering provides a wonderful
learning opportunity. When we volunteer to take on a specific job,
we will gain experience and learn something new. Often we will be
asked to perform a task that we haven’t done before, take
on a new leadership role, or teach something -- and there is no
better way to learn than to teach. The skills we acquire are more
valuable than any book learning in a school or college, and can
even be included on our resume. We can use people we’ve worked
with in volunteer situations as references -- just make sure you
ask them up front if it will be OK.
When volunteering, we are not only networking,
we are also making friends for life. When we are working together
with others on a common project or goal and without the competition
that so easily crops up in a business setting, we form wonderful
friendships. We get to know others in a special way that also leads
to future opportunities for all of us. We learn to trust and care
for each other, besides gaining all of the other benefits that accompany
So, what are you waiting for? Next time they ask
for a volunteer, do it! You will thank me in the future.
Chris King is a free agent,
professional speaker, storyteller, writer, website creator /
designer, and fitness instructor. You will find her freelance
living website at http://www.freelanceliving.com
and her business website at http://www.creativekeys.biz
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