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Hate Networking But Can't Seem to Get Ahead? Try Volunteering.

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Ever feel like a guppy in a shark tank when attending networking events? Unless you're a natural-born used car salesman, the entrepreneurial atmosphere of these types of mixers can be a little overwhelming. But in today's competitive job market, making a career is all about shaking the right hands and meeting the right people. Luckily for you, there are alternatives to swapping business cards like they're first edition Charizards. In a recent post at Entrepreneur, businessman Matthew Toren offers several suggestions for the non-networker, including one that most folks don't often associate with career advancement: volunteering.

What's the Big Idea?

Volunteering is a terrific way of meeting new people without having to enter into a contrived "I'm here to meet new people" sort of arena. The nice thing about volunteer organizations is they provide a context upon which participants can build relationships. And as Toren notes, many entrepreneurs and business leaders dedicate themselves to giving back to their communities through volunteer work. The potential benefits of lending a hand are bountiful in both the developmental and professional realms.

One major warning: don't sign up to do good if you only intend to do well. If you lack dedication to the actual work in volunteer work, you'll only serve to hamstring yourself in the long run. In my experience as a volunteer coordinator, the brownnosers and backslappers stand out like sore thumbs. 

Check out your local volunteer organizations: soup kitchens, shelters, hospitals, or even local theatres (volunteer ushers often get to watch plays for free). Toren suggests Volunteermatch.org to get started. You'll find that making friends and forming potential business connections is easy when you share rich experiences with like-minded people.

Read more at Entrepreneur

Photo credit: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

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