More than Professional Networking by Payal Kothari

Published: over 2 years ago by Lauren King.

So, you're done with college and you have your first job. You’re jet-setting along trying to figure out your career path. Friends are starting to get married, or moving away for new job opportunities, and you realize that your circle of friends is slowly starting to shrink. Maybe even the friends that you do have are starting to have less in common with you. You, then, start investing more of your time into a charity that you’re involved in and quickly learn that associates boards are not just for charity, but also a great opportunity for social interactions.

 

The strongest, most successful boards are the ones that are deeply rooted in friendship. Board meetings and events do not seem obligatory when they give you the opportunity to hang out with friends every month. The question is: how do you start these friendships, and more importantly, how do you maintain them? I think most would agree that going into the first meeting, a room with 40+ people that you have never met, can be slightly unnerving. However, you are walking into a meeting where everyone has a common interest, which eases the awkwardness and allows for the foundations of strong friendships.

 

A great method to get people involved within a board is to give everyone a responsibility. Make them feel like you need them in order for an event or a meeting to succeed. This can be as simple as pulling someone aside and asking them to go grab another pack of solo cups out of the box at an event. Assigning everyone a crucial role is an easy way to make sure everyone knows they are bringing something to the table and part of a team, especially if they are new or shy. As time goes by, more important tasks and responsibilities can be delegated out to those who wish to be more involved. Being able to trust others to accomplish tasks eliminates the stress factor and leads to successful teamwork.

 

As you get older, randomly meeting your potential life partner at a bar gets less and less enticing. And, eventually, you reach an age where you've already dated all of your friends’ friends that are worth dating. But, when your life is work, and your social life mainly leads you to hanging out with people that you’ve know for years, how in the world are you supposed to meet someone new? The answer is: at events for associates boards and charities. As the common saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together.” The selfless, young professionals that dedicate their time and energy to these great causes tend to bring friends along with the same kind heart and spirit.

 

Associates boards are a two-way street. Not only you are impacting the lives of others with the volunteer aspect, but you will also be shocked at how much your own life will be impacted. The next time that you are at an event or a meeting, try talking to someone new. If you are in a leadership position, take it upon yourself to make sure the other members feel not only wanted, but needed. And who knows, maybe the person you ask to grab some solo cups will end up being your next best friend or life partner.

 

 

Payal Kothari has been a member of the Chicago Lights Associates Board for 3 years and is currently serving as the Vice-President. Prior to joining the Associates Board, she was a volunteer with the tutoring outreach program of Chicago Lights. 

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