To volunteer to be a NetSquared leader, you don’t need to have a PhD in technology for international development. You also don’t need to be a saint. You can get something out of the experience, and it’s easy to get started. I volunteered with the SFTech4Good Meetup (formerly SFNetSquared) for four years, and even if you only run meetups for a year or two, it can still help you significantly advance your career!
Creating Meetups is Good for Your Professional Development
When you consistently produce great events, people see you as an expert, a convener, or a “go-to” person on that topic. It’s an easy way to become a thought leader even if you are still learning about a topic.
When I got out of college, I attended a lot of networking events, since I heard that networking was the way to get ahead. I volunteered with Acumen, Synergos Institute, and Net Impact, because they had projects that I could join.
While those were great experiences, they weren’t as valuable to me as my time as a NetSquared leader. Hosting a meetup shows:
Commitment: I volunteered four years, which shows dedication. That said, you don’t need to commit to that long. But to get the most out of the experience, I think at least a year will give you the time you need to grow.
Leadership: No one was telling me what to do. I had a vision for events and growing the tech for good community, and I implemented it from start to finish.
Management effectiveness: I brought onboard multiple volunteers, managed them, and helped transition people’s work from one person to another as volunteers came in and out of the group.
Skill at marketing: Filling a room with attendees is a sure sign that you have practical marketing experience.
Impact: I grew the community from nearly 2,000 people to nearly 5,000 members on Meetup. Your community might not be as big, but you’re helping nonprofits build their technology and digital marketing skills. Attendees will take these new skills into their work, so your impact is exponential.
When you want to build your resume, you should remember that hiring managers look for both “soft skills” like positive qualities, as well as demonstrated results. Being a NetSquared leader offers you the chance to build both.
Running Events Builds Your Network
When you create events, over time, you get to know people in sectors you care about. In my career to date, all but one of my jobs has come from referrals. Thanks to the SFTech4Good Meetup, I can directly attribute one of my jobs to a referral from someone in the SFTech4Good community and another role I got was influenced by someone at another event I produced.
There’s a saying that “Your Network is Your Net Worth.” Whether you believe that literally or not, being a NetSquared leader is a great way to build your network because you can create events and content you care about, so people get to know you for that, and you can eventually get hired doing what you love!
The NetSquared Community is Global, Welcoming, and Supportive
If you’re feeling frustrated by the news, by politics, or the daily grind, being part of a global community is incredibly inspiring. I remember joining global calls where I got to hear about the power of the nonprofit sector across the U.S., Europe, Africa and Asia.
Being part of a global community, where you can contribute to what you care about, is a great antidote to stress, apathy, and anger about the state of the world today.
Stop complaining about things that bother you and start doing something about it. You can start with a few hours a month.
One of the things I loved about volunteering with the NetSquared community was how flexible, open, and helpful people are. TechSoup provides the Meetup platform for you (normally, as a Meetup organizer, you’d have to pay a fee) and then you can just create events however you want! It’s like working with clay - the resource is there for you to shape, with your unique creative energy. You don’t have to fill out a ton of forms, or follow certain procedures, or jump through lots of hoops. You can get started quickly with a 30 minute call with the community manager and then a Meetup page, and off you go!
Katharine Bierce works in content marketing at Salesforce.org, and is especially excited about AI for Good. From 2014-2018, she served as a volunteer event producer with the SFTech4Good Meetup. Under her leadership, the group more than doubled in size from nearly 2,000 to almost 5,000 members today on Meetup, and she also managed a team of volunteers to build a dedicated SFTech4Good website, among other accomplishments. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, writing about mindfulness and business, and teaching yoga. Follow her on Twitter: @kbierce