“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Monday, November 26, 2012
Friday, November 23, 2012
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
There are a great many people who are of the opinion that doing something for nothing is poor business practice, and that if you give away your service that it means that you don’t value it (therefore potential clients won’t value it either). These beliefs cannot be further from the truth. In reality taking on a small project for the sake of helping another, or lending your time and expertise for a local charity says much more. Doing so shows that you are a member of the community, and that you (and your business) care about that community and are willing to forgo profits to not only help others, but to aid in improving the community as well. Something as small as a medical practice sending doctors to volunteer at a free clinic, any business helping to rebuild homes damaged by natural disasters, or an accountant or lawyer helping a community center or little league set up the bylaws or find funding are just a few examples of such acts.
Donating time and expertise may not immediately affect the company’s bottom line, but what it will do is show people that not all companies put profits before those in the area that the business exists in. Doing so will help build trust and goodwill with neighbors who are always potential clients. Perhaps free positive publicity or PR will follow, which is always a benefit to any business. Even without such broad-reaching attention, word of mouth may carry the company name far enough and to enough people to spread the word of an involved business that takes the time to give back. At the very least, it creates a great opportunity to network with other community members.
Down the road, when conditions improve and people are in a better position to become clients, they will already have a positive view of the company. A positive general image combined with giving back to the community are two sure-fire ways to attract and retain clients. This can all be accomplished at any time regardless of economic climate or without reason other than simply because people are in need and it would be the right thing to do.
Friday, November 16, 2012
No matter how large or small, a business is part of the community in which it operates. Many business owners who wish to invest in their local community may be at a loss as to how to contribute to their community. Businesses have a variety of creative ways they can give back to a community from accepting charitable donations to providing mentoring.
Request Charitable DonationsA business that operates a storefront or accepts customer payments for goods and services might consider taking up a regular donation for a local charity or other community organization, as suggested by the National Federation of Independent Business. A business owner could make a collection box available where customers can donate money, food or clothing items. The business owner might also consider adding an optional donation amount to the customer's purchase, such as a $1 donation to a local community organization.
Donate Products or ServicesA business owner or manager may also consider contributing products or services directly to the community. A business that sells or makes food items could donate to a local food bank. A company that makes or distributes clothing, school supplies or medical equipment could donate to a community shelter, school or medical clinic. Even a business that provides a service such as construction or plumbing could volunteer employee time and materials to facilitate needed repairs for elderly and low-income households in the community.
Become a SponsorMany small to large sized businesses give back to the community by partaking in a variety of sponsorship opportunities. For instance, a business with a high-traffic location such as a gas station or restaurant might host a car wash where students can work to raise money for class trips or supplies. Other businesses sponsor a local little league team by investing in their uniforms, which has the dual benefit of providing advertising and exposure for the business.
Mentoring ProgramsA business within the community is in a unique position to give back on a personal level, as well. Some businesses offer a mentoring or job skills training program open to local community members. The business might offer internship programs for high school and college students looking for new work experience in a particular field, or the program could be open to people looking for work requiring on-the-job training to acquire new skills.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Gen Y is intimately familiar with volunteering and social responsibility. As kids we were expected—sometimes required—to serve our communities. As young adults, we volunteered in our college towns and abroad.
Now, as a skilled young professional, you might be looking for somewhere else to make your mark, and something that puts your skills to better use than painting houses. Wouldn’t it be great to drive social change with that same expertise that gets you ahead during the day?
Good news: that opportunity is out there! You can donate your professional skills pro bono to a nonprofit, government agency, or social change organization, and see the power of pro bono service.
And your altruism can help you too. Pro bono programs can be valuable to your development as an employee—a sentiment seconded by 91 percent of HR professionals. Pro bono work also looks great on résumés and graduate school applications, as it shows leadership, commitment, and a drive to see others succeed.
Not convinced? Six reasons business professionals like you choose to donate their skills pro bono:
1. Diversify your résumé and professional portfolio
A graphic designer in San Francisco came to the Taproot Foundation, the largest pro bono consulting firm in the nation, explaining, “I love my job, but I have been designing in blue and white for 20 years. I want to design in a different color.”
Even if you love your job, reaching outside your everyday work and getting your hands dirty in another industry, field, or even color can enrich your skills.
If you’re in marketing, experiment with new audiences by creating a branding strategy for a local nonprofit; if you’re in finance, conduct a financial analysis for your local school district and see what it might teach you about bootstrapping. Using your professional skills in a new way gives you fresh insights, and teaches you to bring more creativity to the table.
2. Develop leadership and team-building skillsIf you work at an industry behemoth, you’ve probably already found out it’s not always easy to take ownership of big projects as a young professional. But when you volunteer outside of the office, chances are you’ll be sitting in the driver’s seat, honing your leadership skills and learning to direct a team.
“I became a much better manager,” recalls pro bono veteran Donna Campbell. “I had to quickly learn how to motivate and persuade people that I barely knew and get them to work together.”
3. Build your professional networkIf you provide high quality services—as no doubt you will—your pro bono clients could become some of your top references. And since you’re likely to get more leadership opportunities on a pro bono project, they may be especially well-equipped to testify to your skills managing a project.
Working on a team with other pro bono volunteers can also give you the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people in your industry—with whom you share a common interest—and help you expand your network.
4. Win respect from professional peersEngaging in pro bono work can improve your status in the eyes of your employer. Corporations have a difficult time gaining legitimacy in the public eye, and often look to develop social impact initiatives. By donating your time to an organization in your community, you gain positive public exposure for yourself and your company. What’s more, if you do a stellar job without commission, it will leave people wondering what amazing things you’re capable of with a paycheck.
5. Get a firsthand look at the inner workings of a nonprofitFor many business professionals, working with nonprofits can be a lot like visiting a different country: it can be a fun, rich, and rewarding learning experience. While there are some distinctive differences between the nonprofit and for-profit sector (i.e., free lunch), that’s not necessarily bad.
Working with the management side of a nonprofit will give you a better look at what goes on behind closed doors at your local art museums, food pantries, and homeless shelters. You might find it to be an exciting and fulfilling environment, and ideally you’ll do some cross-pollinating and bring new insights back to your own office.
6. Create lasting and tangible impactPro bono work gives nonprofit and community organizations access to vital resources they cannot always readily afford. And offering your professional skills lets you contribute something unique, a more specialized gift than painting a daycare room, stuffing envelopes, or other types of hands-on volunteering. Necessary as those services are, they’re much easier to recruit than a skilled graphic designer or financial analyst!
So what next?Find the perfect project for you. Be careful—not all pro bono opportunities are created equal, and the wrong choice could leave a bad taste in your mouth for years. Check to see if there is an established pro bono program in your company or ask a more senior colleague for guidance, and check out these tips on finding the right pro bono project!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Fact: Networking gets harder when we feel more desperate - Others can sense when your sole purpose is to make a sale or
find a job. If you change your objective to
taking a single step closer to your goal, the stakes won't seem as high and you
will feel more relaxed, less desperate (From Gwinnett Network, October 31,
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Facts tell, stories sell - telling a story of someone you have helped or are helping lets your sales TEAM know that you are actively engaged in your business and that you are in the business of helping people. (Cory'ism October 31, 2012)
Monday, November 12, 2012
By Alyssa GregoryI’m a big believer in giving back by donating your time and expertise to your community and your industry. Volunteering can have a number of benefits — helping others, enhancing your skills, becoming active in your community, and creating a sense of achievement. But giving back can also help your career and business. While I wouldn’t recommend volunteering solely for the business benefits, here are some of the areas where you may see value from your efforts.
You can develop new relationships.
Getting out there and volunteering in your community puts you in a great position to meet new people who you may not otherwise meet. These relationships are not only good for networking, but they also help you to create a group of people to consult with outside of your immediate business network.
It can broaden your experience.
Even if you donate time doing something you do everyday, volunteering provides an opportunity to work on something new with new people in a new place. You get to see more and experience more, and you never know where you might learn a new skill, discover a new way to do something or expand your knowledge in some other valuable way.
It provides indirect marketing exposure.
Sometimes the best marketing is marketing that happens naturally. This can happen when you are focused on a task, especially one that involves collaboration and teamwork.
It’s good for your reputation.
If you work for yourself, everything you do, on and off the job, impacts your business reputation. Giving back is one way to position yourself in a good light. When you spend time and effort for the betterment of others, you are telling clients, potential clients and colleagues that you are empathetic to those around you.
It makes you more well-rounded.
Volunteering makes you well-rounded, as a person and a business owner. And when you volunteer for the right reasons (and realize all of the benefits listed here are really just peripheral to the main purpose of giving back), you just may become a better person.
Friday, November 9, 2012
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Research shows that giving back is important to small business: 89% of entrepreneurs donate money, both personally and through their companies, according to a study by Ernst & Young and the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund. What’s more: 62% say giving back makes their companies more successful in the long run.
But it’s not always easy for small businesses to give back to their communities. Owners and their employees are often short on time and low on funds. However, there are meaningful ways to give back that don’t involve shelling out lots of money or spending days working on pro-bono projects. Here are some ideas.