Volunteering can be the ultimate form of networking. You find an organization that needs help and provides a service in which you believe. Suddenly you are working with like-minded people who share your interests. You are going to make new friends.
Many smaller organizations need all kinds of help. Here’s a chance to try something new. It doesn’t have to be a busman’s holiday. Just because you are an accountant, you don’t have to work on their finances. Let’s say you are interested in learning about websites. There may be somebody in an organization who is willing to show you their site and train you on the setup.
You may already have a favorite charity. That’s a great place to start. If you belong to a church, or temple, or mosque, guess what? Those places always need volunteers. I am a leader in my church, and there is a lot to learn. It is a business plus. All the same issues as a small business in a setting that is collegial.
You can be strategic in this. You could join a group related to your career interests and become a big wig there. Or you could work at an animal shelter, helping in many ways.
You are doing this to help. You are doing it because it is something in which you believe. People will hear your story and get to know you. You don’t know where your next work opportunity will come from and paraphrasing Ford Myers, your network includes everybody you meet. If the postman knows you are seeking opportunities, his brother-in-law may be the president of that company you are dying to join.
You aren’t doing this with ulterior motives. You are doing this because you believe in an organization and want to help. Job seeking can be tough. Many people struggle with depression, as I do. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard on the topic? Go somewhere and help somebody else. It takes you outside of yourself, and you will hear stories that put your problems in perspective. And guess what? It feels good to help others.