During the last 15 years, I have been involved in various volunteer, open source and community initiatives where I share my expertise with others and help people grow and improve their skills. I contributed to several technology books, I was teaching in university courses and I organize technology events where people can share their expertise.
This is my contribution to the community which I do on a volunteer basis and usually don’t get paid for it. These activities require strong commitment and take from my free time, so you may be wondering why I am still doing them.
Considering that I am not alone and that behind each such initiative stays a bigger or smaller team of motivated people, you can bet that this is something that is definitely worth doing. The truth is that there are lots of indirect benefits of your volunteer work and what you get in exchange is much more than what you invested in it. Below are few of them.
By sharing your knowledge and helping others solve problems, you create awareness about your skills and know-how in certain areas. This naturally makes people recognizing you as an expert in these areas. It improves your personal brand by showcasing your expertise.
- It can be as simple as helping a colleague to solve a problem. If you do it regularly, people will notice you and your reputation will grow.
- Prepare a presentation about good solution for your team or give a talk about hot topic at a technical event and you are going to the next level.
- The more you do, the higher is your popularity and recognition as an expert.
This effect amplifies significantly when you are involved in activities that impact more people like technical events, courses, seminars and conferences.
Most volunteer activities and open source projects require work in a team and delivery of product or results. This provides plenty of opportunities for gaining new skills and experience and for know-how exchange with colleagues.
You develop your skills even in simple cases like creation of short presentation, where you often work alone.
- You will need to invest time in research and collection of information from different sources
- Then you have to analyze, systemize it and present it appropriately for your audience.
- By doing this, you are enriching your knowledge and improving your analytical and presentation skills.
By being involved in volunteer, open source and community initiatives you have the great opportunity of meeting people, that you won’t be able to reach otherwise.
The people that contribute to such activities are usually very motivated, open minded and highly skilled. You will have the chance to meet outstanding leaders and great professionals and build valuable connections and relationships.
By working together, you become aware of people strengths and expertise and they become aware of yours. This expands your professional network and may lead to new opportunities.
Ideas and feedback
Every time you share information with others, you have a chance to get feedback from them. This feedback may be very valuable.
When you present a solution in front of an audience, you may get suggestions how to improve it or people may notice flaws that you missed. You also have the chance to meet people working on similar problems and even partner with them in the future.
You have a good idea and you want to test it? Just share it with others and wait for feedback and suggestions. People have different point of views, so you will be surprised how much improvements you can make by simply gathering feedback.
Personal and professional growth
By sharing our expertise and being involved in different activities we expand our professional network. We also build friendships and valuable connections. Our communication improves and we develop new skills. This affects both our personal and professional growth.
By sharing and helping others, you create a demand for your expertise and this increases your opportunities for professional engagements.
Networking is about who you know and who knows you (and the second is much more important). The best professional opportunities often come from your network, triggered by the people who know you. If you are actively sharing your expertise and people are aware of your skills, you will never have to look for a new job, because the new opportunities will naturally find you.