Magazine article Black Enterprise

It Pays to Volunteer

Magazine article Black Enterprise

It Pays to Volunteer

Article excerpt

Championing a cause rates high on the agendas of today's well-connected professionals. Often, donating time and expertise to a personal concern or charity is just as important as clinching a deal or snagging a new client. Indeed, the two endeavors can work hand-in-hand.

Obviously, the more people you meet, the greater the chance that your name, service or product will become known to others. Mingling, idea exchanges and visibility are all part of volunteer work. This, in turn, often leads to networking exchanges. Whether they serve on a community board or tutor neighborhood kids, many professionals make volunteering a part of their lives.

In addition to the obvious altruistic payoffs, philanthropy can heighten your visibility and broaden your network of contacts. "When I volunteer, I'm not specifically looking for contacts or connections. But that doesn't mean I don't keep my eyes open for them," says Gale E. Harris, president of her own public relations & marketing consulting firm in Beverly Hills. Harris dates her volunteerism back to 1973, when she joined the National Association of Market Developers in Los Angeles. Today, she volunteers as its executive director.

"Because of the one-on-one nature of volunteer efforts, people remember your name and business," says Harris, who also has been active with Junior Achievement and the L.A. Urban League. "Because of the contacts I've made through my volunteer networks, a lot of my business comes from word of mouth. …

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