You don't have to pledge Skull and Bones or be a country club deb to meet the right people. There are a ton of jobs that offer that opportunity but go begging every year for want of volunteers willing to take them.

Take ushering at your church or synagogue. Maybe it sounds like it's just one step ahead of stoking the boilers, but it's one of the most important jobs around the place. It only takes an hour a week, and there's no heavy lifting. You can look on it as a "poor man's finishing school." It will help you overcome any innate shyness you may have about meeting and greeting strangers, and if you do it properly, you'll really enjoy it.

Smart leaders of growing congregations make sure they have an ushering crew that stands tall. The ushers set the tone. Is it a friendly place with a warm welcome or an ingrown deal with very little to offer newcomers?

The Reverend James Kennedy, pastor of the well-known Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, has a church that attracts a tremendous number of visitors. The ushers at Coral Ridge are instructed to be certain everyone is welcomed by at least two or three people and told they "were glad you came to worship with us today." The church benefits greatly from these volunteers, but so do the individual ushers who become polished embassadors for their congregation.

Getting active in an organization can help you in areas where you may be weak. Afraid to speak in front of a group? You won't be toast if you join Toastmasters. I did, and I can tell you that the basics I learned in this organization are the primary reasons for any success I've had as a public speaker.

Also, Toastmasters helps you develop:



confidence and


Because volunteerism almost always includes fund-raising, you have an unusual opportunity to hone your selling skills. You will get a ton of no's but what better way to receive on-the-job training than on someone else's payroll.

When you do volunteer work, you can learn how to run a meeting, prepare reports, serve on committees, supervise others, and a thousand other skills that can help you in your own career. Sometimes, it's impossible to learn these things on the job.

Most of the people who sign up for these volunteer chores stay active for decades. Here's an opportunity to learn teamwork and have the satisfaction of providing a vital service. You'll make new friends, and you'll be able to develop other contacts within the community itself.

Sometimes the rewards of volunteering are unexpected.

Will was a pretty fair high school athlete, but he dropped out of college before he could make any mark in athletics. He loved hockey and despite a career of mostly lower level blue collar jobs, he found enough time to coach kid hockey teams. Most of his friends thought he was crazy to spend so much time coaching for nothing when he didn't have two quarters to rub together.

However, one of the contacts he made with his coaching really paid off, and today Will has a job he never dreamed he could get . . . sales manager for a well-respected paper company.

Sometimes, the only rewards for volunteering are the satisfaction of doing a thankless job well. But sometimes, there is a personal payoff, and it can come in surprising ways.

Author's Bio: 

Harvey Mackay has redesigned the concept of business networking. Author of the New York Times #1 bestsellers Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt, he is no stranger to the challenges encompassing the business world. His books are among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. Mackay’s books have sold 10 million copies in 80 countries and have been translated into 37 languages.

Walk with Mackay as he discusses the secrets to constructing and upholding a network that will yield exciting new experiences, increased job security, and an expanded financial reach. Harvey Mackay believes most people make the crucial mistake of only turning to their network when the need it.

Harvey Mackay’s website,, along with his book, The Harvey Mackay Rolodex Network Builder, reveal secrets for network building as a lifelong practice and emphasize taking business relations to a personal level.

Mackay is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business Executive Program. Mackay is a nationally syndicated columnist for United Feature Syndicate, whose weekly articles appear in 52 newspapers around the country including: the Chicago Sun Times, Rocky Mountain News, Orange County Register, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Arizona Republic. Harvey Mackay is also one of America's most popular business speakers and was named by Toastmasters International as one of the top five speakers in the world.