Volunteering Your Time for Fundraisers
Even if an event is not your own, you can still get involved without being the lead event planner. Charitable events attract business and community leaders. Philanthropy can have many benefits, and volunteering is one of those benefits. Volunteering can make you feel good internally while finding support for causes you care about. Involving yourself in a fundraiser will ultimately integrate you in the community. The time you dedicate to a fundraiser can increase your networking skills.
Fundraisers tend to be social events where it may be out of place — yet tempting — to pass out your business card among your city's movers and shakers. Do your best to resist this urge. A well-meaning introduction may offend a potential contact if followed by a slip of the business card. However, you can network subtly by planting a seed with an introduction and a handshake with prospective contacts. Only share your contact information if asked.
A guest at a fundraiser may not realize he is in your networking sights. For this reason keep conversations with guests brief but make an impact. Even though event planners may be utilizing fundraisers to network with potential clients, a guest may avoid a zealous event planner.
Making the Most of Volunteering
There is a saying in the acting world about no small parts, only small actors. This phrase can be related to event planning as well. When volunteering for an event, offer your time where it is needed. That may mean checking coats or buffing glassware. To make the most out of your volunteer efforts, attempt to work in the forefront and not behind the scenes. To combine volunteering and networking, the best jobs are:
Working the registration table. This is perhaps the best job as it allows you to put a name with prominent members of your community.
Passing cocktails. Use this very social job to introduce yourself to guests.
Passing hors d'oeuvres. Similar to passing cocktails, this job requires conversation. You may begin by talking about the cuisine but end the conversation forging a rapport with a guest.
Distributing favors. It is easier to engage guests in conversation toward the end of the evening. You can make an impression on a guest by asking how her evening was as she is heading out the door. In fact, some restaurateurs argue that the goodbye the guest receives is more important than the greeting the guest received when she first walked in. The goodbye is the very last impression the guest will have of the establishment.
Coat check. Struggling with coats and hangers in a little stuffy room is not very glamorous but it does have its advantages.
Working on the coat check circuit enables you to become a familiar face in a crowd.
Remember Why You Volunteer
Again, try not to be too difficult when the event planner of the fundraiser is passing out jobs. Remember, you are there to volunteer and support a cause first; networking is a bonus. The upside to working behind the scenes is you may be able to join the festivities if your job is finished. Ask the event planner if this is possible to arrange.