Monday, 28 October 2013

New volunteering questions on LinkedIn and why you should be excited

Nearly every time I log into LinkedIn it asks me to update my profile. Now, my profile is pretty much as complete as it ever will be. In fact, I'm an 'All Star' (pause for applause). There's so much information on my profile my career identity is at risk of being stolen. So these requests for update have, up to now, been a bit of an annoyance.

That is, until I logged in today...

Today, along with the usual "Who else worked with you on this project?" questions, there were three new sections asking for completion.

I was asked the following:
  • How have I volunteered in the past and with whom?
  • What volunteering opportunities would I be interested in?
  • What causes would I be willing to volunteer for?
As someone who personally thinks more people should be willing to give up a little of their time to help others (somewhat hypocritically I admit), these new set of questions struck a cord and I quickly completed them with my preferences. I'm expecting an influx of emails any day now from charities looking for a Digital Marketing and Social Media Geek to help them with their latest campaign. And that's OK with me.

But warm fuzzy feeling and doing good for the world aside, there is another side to this story in terms of professional development. Here's why I think you should answer these questions and be open to giving up some of your time.
  • Develop your skills - Multi-sector experience is a rarity nowadays. Getting out of your comfort zone and applying your skills and knowledge to a new set of challenges is a fantastic way of becoming a more robust professional.
  • Learn new skills - Of course, doing new things and working on new projects in new sectors is a great way to learn and take something back to your day job.
  • Meet new people - Networking is such a valuable skill. If it's not a current strength of yours then you can do worse than jumping in at the deep end and involving yourself on a project where you don't know anyone.
  • Open new doors - These new people you're meeting may very well be volunteers themselves, from other companies, and you never know where networking and showing off your capabilities might lead you.
  • You CAN make a difference - OK. I know. I said warm fuzzy feelings aside. But passion for wanting to make things better is a quality that will shine through in all aspects of your life both personally and professionally. And you really can make a difference. And that's important.
So I implore you. Please don't just hit 'skip'. Take the time to fill out your volunteering preferences and be open to the offers and requests that follow. You never know where this journey may take you.