Giving back. It’s something we all say we want to do, but it often takes a back seat to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Many of us donate money as a way of giving back, and while it is a terrific way to be a part of the solution, sometimes the best thing you can offer is your time.
I got to thinking about this topic after spending a day at my alma mater, Western Michigan University, this past week, presenting on the topic of social media in a job hunt and to build your personal brand. Not only were the professors and staff members who invited me there thrilled that I was taking time out of my schedule to drive two hours to Kalamazoo, but they also appreciated the insight on a topic that isn’t currently being taught at the university.
And you know who else appreciated it? The students. They listened attentively, asked intelligent questions and seemed to really latch onto the idea that the sites they’re already using can be leveraged to help them find a job in the big, scary real world. They thanked me face-to-face after my speeches, and they took my business cards so that they could follow-up with me later.
I don’t tell this story to toot my own horn, I tell it to illustrate how the simple gift of your time can mean the world of difference to someone who seeks the knowledge or helping hand you have to offer. I’m a card-carrying member of the WMU Alumni Association, and I could feel perfectly content simply contributing in that way, year after year. But if you take the time to go the extra mile, to extend some advice and knowledge to those who seek it, you’ll find it pays off dividends in your life and in the lives of others.
So as we close out another week of business, I implore you to ask yourself this question: How can I be giving of my time? Whether you’re in real estate, engineering, retail or otherwise, chances are the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned are valuable to others. If you’re a good videographer, offer to hold a workshop at your local chamber of commerce. If you’ve found success in corporate communications, offer to visit your alma mater and talk to students about ways they can give themselves a leg up as well. It’s also a great way to get your name out there, because you never know who might need to solicit your services.
Make it a point to give back to your community within the next six months, and you’ll be glad you did.