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Professional volunteering: the killer app!

Professional volunteering: the killer app!

When I was first out of grad school trying to get a job, I heard people saying, “you have to network,” etc. I thought at the time, and still do, that that approach is only particularly effective if you have a current job or some kind of existing network to use as a springboard. However, once you’re safe and sound in a position you’re okay with, you can use volunteering to build a powerful network and increase your marketability. And, while you always meet interesting people working at a food kitchen or other real charitable cause, your career calls for you to work the professional circuit.

My advice if you’d like to expand your career horizons is to join a professional association. Now, I happen to have made my career (so far) working for these critters so I know whereof I speak.

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The first step is to find an association you’re interested in. If they have stringent admissions criteria you don’t meet, join another one. If one is too expensive, try another. But really benefiting from the association means more than just opening up your checkbook and paying the dues (altho you’ll keep the staff happy that way). No, to really get the benefit out of the association, you have to work it. The best way to do this is to volunteer.

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Most associations are made up of aging folks who’d like to step aside but they feel guilty. So, generally speaking, anyone new is met with open arms. These people are great contacts to have, and if you give them a hand, they’ll be a friend for life. And they know everybody. Go to their meetings every once in awhile; sometimes they publish when the board meeting is–go to that and you’ll have a private audience and people willing to hear all about you. Call up your local chapter, send an email, and ask if they need a hand. Phone calls made for a conference. Newsletter layout. Whatever you’re good at, offer it to them. If they’re smart they’ll take you up on it. If you read their newsletters, you’ll see sometimes there are different needs that people advertise. You’ll get some people who are so overwhelmed you’ll never hear back from them. If so, try a different association when your dues expire.

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Another tip is to make friends with the staff. These places are basically small businesses and if you find a friend, they’ll network you in with the who’s who of the industry or field. Keep on their radar, and soon you’ll be asked to do all kinds of stuff. It will keep you *extremely* busy, but in my estimation, the contacts are worth it.

I always used to be vaguely offended when someone said “it’s not what you know it’s who you know.” Now, I use that as an invitation to start meeting interesting people. Some may see this as somewhat Machiavellian or that it’s akin to using people, but if you generally enjoy making new friends, being a good person, and helping others solve their problems, it’s fun and can be beneficial as a career investment.

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Last Updated on October 9, 2018

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

Most of you made personal, one sentence resolutions like “I want to lose weight” or “I vow to go back to school.” It is a tradition to start the New Year with things you want to achieve, but under the influence resolutions are often unrealistic.

If you’re wondering when will be a good time to write a mission statement, NOW is the time to take a personal inventory to make this year your most productive year ever. You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to do that?” You, my friends, are going to write personal mission statements.

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A large number of corporations use mission statements to define the purpose of the company’s existence. Sony wants to “become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” and 3M wants “to solve unsolved problems innovatively”. A personal mission statement is different than a corporate mission statement, but the fundamentals are the same.

So why do you need one? A personal statement will help you identify your core values and beliefs in one fluid tapestry of content that you can read anytime and anywhere to stay on task toward success.

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For example, Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire came to the realization that he had lost track of what was important to him. After writing a personal mission statement, we saw him start his own business and he got the girl, Renee Zelleweger. Not bad, wouldn’t you say? A personal mission statement will make sure that, through all the texting, emailing and constant bombardment of on-the-go activity, you won’t lose sight of what is most important to you.

Mission statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal mission statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for 2008.

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To begin your internal cleansing, you will need to jot down the required information in the following five steps:

  1. What are your values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” mission statement for a reason.
  2. What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.
  3. What image do you hope to project to yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals.
  4. Write down action statements from each value describing how you will use those values to achieve your three goals. Start with “I will…”
  5. Rewrite your statement to include only your action statements. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office.

If you followed the steps above, congratulations! You have just written your first personal mission statement. Your personal statement will change over the years as your goals change. You can have more than one statement for the different compartments of your life such as your career, family, marriage, etc.

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Writing a personal mission statement is an effective method to ensure your productivity is at its peak. It is an ideal tradition to start so that when next year rolls around, the outdated practice of resolutions will be something you permanently left in the past.

Featured photo credit: Álvaro Serrano via unsplash.com

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