I recently became aware of and involved in a charity drive to provide handbags and toiletry products to homeless women or those who are victims of domestic violence.
I was in the fortunate position to have a large number of new handbags available that I hadn’t sold, from a business I had closed down recently.
I decided to donate all of the handbags to the cause and then began to think about how to stock them with great products. Enter the wonderful world of social media and networking. By using various social media channels to reach out to my network I was able to stock 100 handbags with 15 products each. Whilst this contribution won’t change the lives of these women it can certainly put a smile on their face.
Participating in this exercise caused me to stop and reflect on several fronts.
The first was about having a sense of connection to something bigger then yourself. This quote resonated with me “I profoundly feel that the art of living is the art of giving. You’re fulfilled in the moment of giving, of doing something beyond yourself.” – Laurance Rockefeller.
Working in the HR space I talk to a lot of businesses about strategies they use to attract, engage and retain their workforce. There are a range of ways in which organisations encourage the practice of community involvement, such as volunteer days, partnerships with charities to enable employees to participate in activities within the charity, fundraising activities, and sponsorship of events to name a few.
Studies have shown that people who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression.
What does your organisation do to give back to the communities in which you operate?
How could you influence your organisation to more actively participate in community involvement?
The second was about the power of having a strong and nurtured network. For me networking is about making and strengthening meaningful relationships that are mutually beneficial. I approach networking with a “give first” mindset and am genuinely interested in other people and finding ways I can help them. I also believe in nurturing these relationships by staying in touch regularly in a range of ways such as sharing information, enquiry emails etc. to keep them fresh.
This approach has clearly been successful for me as I was blown away by the response I received to participate in the cause. Within a week I had received product and monetary donations from network contacts all around the country that enabled me to fill the 100 handbags.
Whilst this particular event was not work related, for me the principles of networking remain the same. Consider your networking practice against the following:
- View networking as a practice of making and strengthening mutually beneficial relationships
- Approach networking with a “give first” mindset
- Be genuinely interested in others and finding ways to help them
- Ask for help only when you have established a strong relationship
- Nurture the relationships – keep in touch, share interesting articles or information, arrange introductions to others who may be able to assist