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Smart Outreach: Big Pay Off

Your personal brand is stellar. Clients are flocked at your door, and you’re making more money than you ever dreamed possible. You’ve made it in your business community.

Now it’s time to give back to the general community.

There is real truth to the old adage that in giving, you shall receive. For one thing, helping people will give you a much better perspective about your own life. For another thing – and this sounds remarkably mercenary, but it’s true – people will notice if you work hard and let that work speak for you.

Never under any circumstances, by the way, speak to your work. I heard a chief executive officer accepting a business award once and in that speech, he touted his own charity work. He sounded, frankly, like a schmuck. Publicity for publicity’s sake is not going to help you; tooting your own horn is one thing, but nominating yourself for sainthood is quite another. Quietly pick a charity, work it hard, and you’ll see that it benefits your spirit as well as your reputation.

Try first to find a place that will work for your talents. If you’re a plumber or an electrician, you can donate services as well as time; there are many charities that need updated facilities, or needy people that require repairs to their houses. If you’re a marketer, offer to help a charity with its fundraising efforts. You could also get a number of colleagues together and work to fix up playgrounds, hold a fundraiser, or mentor children or battered women.

Look in your area to see which organizations do the most good. That means asking tough questions about how much of their annual takings go to charity and how much to operations. If it costs more to run the organization that that group gives to charity, it’s really pretty worthless. Also see which organizations have good business plans but have had difficulty implementing them. If there is a timeframe in which this plan can realistically be executed, the organization may be worth putting some time and money into. However, if this business plan has existed for a number of years and has not been realized, it’s very likely that no one is going to be willing to take the steps necessary to accomplish it at any time in the near future.

Also, please note that professional organizations have their places, but rarely replace a true commitment to charity. Again, it makes perfect sense to check on the ratio of expenditure for operations versus actual charity.

Most professional organizations focus on the glorification of their members. While there is a place for this kind of group in just about any business, don’t fool yourself into believing that involvement in such organizations is going to equate into doing good for society.

Realistically, these groups are about making contacts in business. If you can rise to the heights of an officership in a professional organization without spending more than a few hours a week at it, by all means do it – as long as the organization’s philosophy matches that of your personal brand. There’s no reason to attach yourself to a shoddy group simply because it makes you look like a big shot in your business. The fact is that your clients won’t care about these organizations or your place in their hierarchy; they are only interested in the quality of whatever service you provide and the value they get for their money spent with you. If being involved gives you a little more credibility, buy a membership and do the minimum required for membership.

In the long run, your time should only be spent on worthwhile endeavors. Think carefully before you commit to a number of extracurricular activities that don’t do anything for your brand – you have more important things to do with your time.