For the last few weeks the world has been enthralled in goals; World Cup Soccer Goals. During that time, I too have spent my time focusing on goals; personal goals. At the beginning of my term of service with Volunteer Maryland(VM) I was tasked with creating personal and professional goals, and as my service term winds down I’ve done some assessing. Successes and shortcomings are part of any goal setting process and as look back on my time with Volunteer Maryland I am pleased by my successes and motivated by my shortcomings.
One of the biggest goals I set for myself this year was the goal of improving my networking skills in order to expand my network potential and the lasting impact of my encounters with other professionals. During my first term of service as an AmeriCorps Member, I engaged in networking in several professional settings and made connections with other, but this year I knew I needed to do more. With the help of the Volunteer Maryland Support Team, I jumped right into networking during my first weeks as a Peer Leader. Getting to know the staff here at VM and meeting people in our offices and elsewhere on an almost constant basis gave me the chance to start networking from day one and started me down the field towards a scoring goal . The training I received through Volunteer Maryland also helped to accelerate my goal reaching aspirations. Each year, VM trains Volunteer Maryland Coordinators in the art of networking starting with their pre-service training and continuing through the year, with additional training’s and opportunities to practice this necessary skill. As a benefit of being a Peer Leader, I have the privilege of also participating in those training’s and the knowledge I gained was expansive. I learned about topics like how to approach networking settings, how to prepare ahead of time, and how to follow-up after an event. I also learned that networking can occur in a variety of settings; everything from meet-and-greets to lunch and learns, to training’s can serve as networking opportunities and being able to recognize and take advantage of those is the key to successfully building and utilizing networking skills.
Through site visits, social activities, team meetings, and direct service I have simultaneously gained additional knowledge about networking and put it into practice. One of the concepts that truly stuck with me this year was the idea that networking should be about knowing what you have to offer others. Going into a networking event with the mindset of finding someone who has something to offer you can be detrimental and will overall limit your chance of successful network building. I also realized that having resources and expertise that I can offer if the situation warrants helped build my confidence in networking settings. With everything I have learned and practiced in regards to networking, I can safely say that this year I lined up my shot, gave the biggest kick I could, and scored a goal with an assist from the Volunteer Maryland team.