I had the opportunity a week ago to attend the Volunteer Leadership Conference for New York State SHRM and at the same time, I have been working with some of my HR colleagues from @NYCSHRM the New York City Chapter of SHRM to better engage future leaders in our Chapter. It got me to thinking about my experiences as a volunteer leader and all the benefits that have come my way:
Development: As a young girl, I joined the International Order of Rainbow for Girls. It is a community service organization, affiliated with the Masons of which my Dad was a member. It was my first introduction to volunteering. To this day, I credit the experience with developing my confidence, public speaking, collaboration and leadership skills.
Years later, I became a very active member in CHART, the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers. Their mantra: “ I Can Do That!” promoted volunteering as a way to gain increased benefits from membership. I quickly raised my hand and started volunteering on conference committees, moving to Conference Chair, positions on the Board and ultimately President of the organization. In those roles, I was able to develop my skills in strategic planning, budgeting, teamwork and team management, organization and communication…all skills I brought back to my own organization.
Knowledge: I had just transitioned into a new role as Trainer for my company when I joined CHART. Although, I had been back to school for Training and Development in a program that integrated real life application, I still had a lot to learn. CHART was a resource to build on my knowledge. As volunteer there was an added opportunity to put that knowledge to use as well as try out some of my new skills.
As I moved into an HR Generalist role, the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) especially my local chapter in New York City became a huge resource. In a profession where there is constant change, @NYCSHRM helped me stay up to speed.
Community: One definition of community is a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals. Finding that community can be rewarding both personally and professionally. Personally, these are your “peeps”; those who enjoy the same activities you do. Professionally, finding folks that experience the same challenges and joys of your job can provide a needed outlet for conversation and bouncing ideas off of each other.
Network: Your network can add to your professional development, provide access to knowledge and learning opportunities and serve as a resource both personally and professionally. We all prefer to do business with those that are recommended or we know and trust. Volunteering your leadership provides an opportunity to meet and network with a larger circle of individuals.
Lifelong Friends: As a volunteer leader, you spend time with others collaborating on projects, participating in service events and leading the organization. Relationships are developed and bonds formed. Although my volunteer leadership roles have changed over time, I have continued friendships developed over shared experiences. These friendships are an added gift of my volunteer leadership.
It is true what they say – You always get so much more back when you give! So when someone asks for a volunteer, I will continue to say “I CAN DO THAT!” and I will encourage others to do the same!