My friend, Darcie Swedelson (A Dazzling Day) read the recent post, Connecting Face-to-Face through Coffee and Conversation. She asked this question: “Beyond showing up, what makes a successful volunteer?”
OK, here are some of the traits of a good volunteer. In the context of this blog, we are talking about volunteerism with industry trade associations, wedding networking groups, and the like. We are not talking specifically about community service, although some of these groups do community service work.
- The best volunteers don’t wait to be asked. After joining an organization, they immediately attend meetings, member orientation (if offered), talk to chapter officers and senior members, and seek out the right opportunities for involvement.
- Ask good questions: It would be nice if leaders asked you good questions about you, but don’t wait for that, either. You know your skills and interest. By doing some investigation, you’ll be able to decide how you might best fit in.
- Don’t over commit: Sell raffle tickets at ONE meeting. Serve on a Project Committee, of limited length.
- Serve on a committee: Have the time and interest for an ongoing task, step up.
- Serve as an elected board member or committee chair: This is where the work increases, and your visibility goes way up.
- Donate your time in a way that is NOT self-promotional. Sometimes, you can do more bonding and relationship building stuffing envelopes with other members. Look for these types of participation opportunities.
- Make judicious donations of your product or service. With rare exception, only donate in situations that will showcase you appropriately. Don’t wait to be asked (see #1).
- Don’t say “No.” Say ‘”That’s really not a good fit” or “I’m not available this month, how about next month or the month after?”- All too often, people ask for donations, too close to a meeting, or they have a need to fill, but do not consider what the benefit would be for you.
- Confirm how you will be credited for a donation, in particular: Will it be on the website? Do you receive a certificate and verbal recognition in front of the entire group? Will you be listed in a meeting. program? Confirm those items in an email. Then reconfirm them, just prior to the meeting.
- Develop a pattern of involvement: If you are involved on a regular basis, your reputation as consistent volunteer and team member will be solidified.
When you do #10, you will have become a core member of the organization. People will look to you as a leader. You will have the cachet to pick up the phone and call any member to ask any question.
It’s not really hard. Just make a plan, and follow it through.