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Volunteer work develops many skills.

Many organizations look at experience working in a volunteer organization when considering a candidate for employment, according to an article in "Canadian Secretary" magazine ("Rising Ambitions" by Rose Klinkenberg, March, 1989)

Volunteering your time by serving on committees or boards of non-profit organizations can help you develop a wide range of skills, including leadership ability, speaking, administration and interpersonal. It also assists in building up a network of business associates, provides experience in organizing a variety of activities, and affords the opportunity of being exposed to many educational seminars and meetings that would otherwise have been missed.

Many managers owe their meeting management and communication skills to experience gained through volunteer work. Some have become accomplished public speakers. Letta Lewis, a past president of Professional Secretaries International, Vancouver Chapter, was quoted in the above-mentioned article: "If anyone had told me, in 1980, that I would become president, I would have laughed. How does one transform from being a bowl of jelly to a totally competent speaker?"

From the company's standpoint, it is worth the investment to encourage active involvement in a professional association. For a few dollars in fees and more than a few hours "stolen" from the company and used for association work, top management can gain a motivated employee whose newly acquired skills and contacts can be used to benefit the company.

There is a danger, however, in joining too many associations. Participation and involvement usually varies indirectly to the number of associations joined. Pick one or two recognized associations which parallel your career track, and become actively involved in their activities. A year of involvement, followed by several years of service on committees as a director, or as an association officer can be a rewarding and profitable experience.

There is also a danger in staying involved with one association for too many years. After five or six years, apathy tends to set in. Creativity and energy is usually replaced by a desire to maintain the status quo. If involvement is no longer exciting, it's time to move on and make room for new blood.

There are many professional associations and societies that can help in your career development. But to benefit, you must prime the pump. Schedule their meeting dates in your calendar. Go armed with business cards, company literature, questions you want answered, and a scratch pad to take notes. Search out interesting people, don't wait in the comer hoping someone will spot your "new member" ribbon. And remember, networking means sharing brains. Take away the give from "give and take" and the victims know they're being taken. Lasting relationships are built on trust. Volunteer to introduce or thank the guest speaker and eventually you may be the guest speaker.

Furthering your career is not the only reason for joining associations. Your motive could be philanthropic. You could have a personal mission to further a certain cause or participate in a worthy venture. You could have a personal axe that needs grinding or a belief that needs expressing. But whatever the purpose, that purpose can be more readily fulfilled if you resolve to take an active part in the affairs of that particular group. Don't try to take the work" out of volunteer work.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Canadian Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Keys to Effective Management
Author:Taylor, Harold L.
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Jun 22, 1989
Words:538
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