You must have been in this situation before: You’re sitting in a group, either at work, in school or in a team meeting, then someone asks “Who would like to volunteer?” or “Who can lend a hand for this?” What follows will also sound familiar: An embarrassing long silence, heads gazing at the ground, clearing throats…Everyone waits for a person referred to as “The volunteer freak”.
This is a person who will, after a few seconds, take a look around, then raise his/her hand and say “I can?!”
The group leader, provided he/she is not the volunteer freak, will then have a look at this person, show him/her a big smile and say an enthusiastic “Great! Wonderful. Thank you!”
The rest of the group will then release a relieved sound, then get ready to stand up and leave the setting as fast as possible. Who knows? Maybe someone might have the unpleasant idea to ask for an additional volunteer. So better to leave the place before someone gets a thought.
Those who leave the setting will return to their usual routines. However, for the volunteer something new will happen. This is reason 1 why you should learn to raise your hand and develop a readiness to volunteer. It’s simple: Something new is going to happen.
While your fellow colleagues, class mates, team members return to their desks, mobile devices, the volunteer is getting ready to learn about his/her new task. This is reason 2 why you should be eager to volunteer. Volunteering to do a task outside your business-as-usual forces you to leave your comfort-zone. It’s a new zone. However, this doesn’t mean that you come without a bag full of experience. Indeed, you’ll find it useful to make use of your skills and talents. Plus, you’ll learn new skills required for the new task.
While the others remain with the same status, your’s will be elevated. The volunteer will find him/herself in a position to assume responsibility. This is reason 3 why you should not miss any opportunity to volunteer.
Most tasks which ask for immediate volunteering often need to be done in a fast, yet efficient way. These are positions to be filled by people who are ready to learn fast, be proactive and can handle responsibility. You don’t only extend your horizon in terms of field-based knowledge, you also acquire leadership skills. For, taking over responsibility is key to managing groups of people. As a volunteer you can learn from the best how to lead.
While your team members call and text the same people as before, you’re extending your network of contacts. This is reason 4 why you should actually not wait for anyone to ask you, but offer to volunteer right away. Accepting to lend a hand, means that you’ll end up shaking a lot of hands. You may not know exactly for what they can be useful. Just note this: Every hand you shake, every business card you exchange means a potential partner for your journey to greatness. This is not an exaggeration! Different people will play different roles in your life, and business contacts will have the same effect on your professional life. Never underestimate the usefulness of new contacts. Note their details, exchange cards. If you don’t have a business card, this is the time to get one. Without it you’re almost non-existent, not traceable in the corporate world. You’re just an anonymous anybody.
Regardless of the capacity in which you’re volunteering – as staff member, intern, team member etc. – as volunteer you get the opportunity to do what others pay PR agencies for: You start building and extending your own network with relevant contacts for your professional journey.
These are just a few reasons why you should volunteer whenever you’re asked, of course only if you can. These are also reasons why you should volunteer to volunteer. See the need, the opportunity for yourself to grow and become better. It goes without saying that you also build your reputation as you go.
So just go, raise your hand and be the next volunteer freak.