Growing my Skills through Non-Profit Work

Everybody has to start somewhere.

For me, it was customer service at a local grocery store. Truth be told, I detested it. But I also learned a great deal from it, and would likely not be where I am today without it. (Regardless of the fact that I met my now husband there.) The point is, we all have beginnings, we all start as nothing with the dream of becoming something. Some of us get a leg up from family, or friends, and some of us have to do everything on our own from the get go. Regardless of the help we get, we all have an enormous amount to learn, but also an enormous amount to give.

bloggraphicWhen I started my business, I had a lot of corporate experience. I had used the skills I now deploy in my business every day and in a variety of ways, but I was still missing some things. I knew where I wanted to be, and I had some ideas of how to get there but I struggled to close some loose ends in my work history. At the same time, I had skills I wanted to use to help others in a meaningful way. I feel like we all have the ability to help those around us, and for me, it is a huge part of who I am. So how did I end up bridging this gap?? Read on!

  1. Have the desire to serve, and the willingness to do it. My desire to help non-profits, coupled with my desire to grow my skill set was a perfect match.  I was not in this solely for me and to grow my skillset, I truly wanted to serve and impact others. And it also aligned with my desire to grow my business skill set.
  2. Dive into the non-profit world. Find a non-profit you know or are familiar with. I knew I wanted to improve my social media management skills so I reached out to a non-profit I’d worked with in the past, and offered my services. It was the perfect opportunity to grow my skills, grow my confidence, and have an impact at the same time. And they were excited for the support (didn’t hurt that it was free I’m sure either!) But honestly, it was a win win for us both.
  3. Practice truly makes perfect, or close to it at least. Practice your skills in a safe manner and get comfortable with the new lingo, tools, timing, etc.
  4. Get feedback and improve yourself. Be open to others input and don’t beat yourself up over mistakes. Failure is a part of learning and we all are imperfect. Try your best, but expect to make a few mistakes along the way. Be thankful to those around you who are willing to show you where you could use a little correcting, and take their feedback to heart. The only way to improve yourself in this business is to accept that you are in a constant state of learning, and be open to getting feedback from others.
  5. Practically speaking, you need referrals if you want to be successful. Use your non-profit experience to not only build up your resume, but get any positive words from your non-profit partners that you can use to help sell your skills to others.
  6. Time. We are all so impatient in this busy world, but we owe it to ourselves to learn, correct, readjust, repeat. Use as much time as you can to give yourself over to this process and truly learn what you can. You can read all day about Social Media Management for example, but until you’re in the weeds with it, it’s hard for it to all sink in. So let it sink in, marinate a bit, and use your PRACTICAL experience to move forward.

At the end of the day, my non-profit experience was exactly what I needed, and from there I was able to confidently acquire the additional skills I needed to get my business started. My non-profit experience gave me the time needed to grow my social media and content management skillset, but it also fulfilled my desire to give back. And for me, there is nothing better, than to have the right balance between helping and serving others and growing my own business. In this case, it was good for them, and good for my business.

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