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It's Good to Give Back!

Volunteering offers satisfaction at the personal level and has career-enhancing powers as well.

By Preeti Vasishtha

Many advisors find it difficult to take time from their busy schedules to volunteer. But what they miss out are the several benefits that volunteering offers.

While volunteerism is altruistic in nature, it also has career-enhancing powers, showcases your abilities and provides an opportunity for you to network and find prospects, says author John P. Napolitano, CFP, CPA, PFS and MST, in his book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Success as a Personal Financial Planner. Napolitano offers some ideas that can put you on the path to successful volunteerism.

Join community organizations
Joining such organizations can serve a variety of purposes. At a personal level, you will be satisfied with your endeavors. Professionally, you will gain visibility in the local communities, increasing your chances of adding new clients.

Many organizations, such as the chamber of commerce, hospitals, nursing facilities and cultural organizations are looking for board members who can offer expertise, especially financial. Consider joining such organizations, but make sure that you have some a personal interest in the organization you select.

If you can’t decide which nonprofit to join, check out GuideStar (www.guidestar.org), which is an online database of nonprofits, or the Volunteer Consulting Group (www.vcg.org). These websites will also help you find information, such as the nonprofit’s history, financial condition and openings for volunteers.

But before you join any nonprofit, understand what is expected of you and the position you’ll be assuming. This will help you in ensuring that there’s no conflict with your work as an advisor.

Don’t’ forget professional associations
You will also reap several benefits by joining a professional association. But your benefits will be even greater if you get involved in the association. Most associations need help at the grassroots level-in membership, programming, government relationships, finance committees, sponsorships, etc. Don’t expect to become a director right away. Start where you can by finding out from the board of directors and committee heads where help is needed.

Become a speaker
If you don’t have the time to devote to the above, consider taking up speaking assignments. Organizations of all types are looking for speakers who have expertise in many areas, including financial planning.

Customize your talk to cater to the audience. Use graphics and real-life stories, without revealing your client’s identity. Highlight some of your major accomplishments and make sure that you offer the audience a way to contact you to discuss personal questions and issues.

Pursue teaching opportunities
If you have a genuine desire to share your knowledge, consider teaching at a high school, college or university. Check out the continuing-education curriculums that offer consumer education or certificate programs. Get on the list of industry professionals that high schools, colleges and universities maintain for teaching credited and noncredited courses.

Be a mentor
Mentoring is a form of volunteering that can have a lasting impact on the protégé. To be a good mentor, you need to be highly motivated to help and have lots of patience. You also need to have a positive attitude, an ability to communicate clearly, and be willing to put in the time and effort required to do a good job.

Mentoring, too, can create business-development opportunities. For instance, your protégé may come across cases that are beyond his capabilities, which can create joint working opportunities for you and him.


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