Appreciate Volunteers

Emax Nordic 2011 Staff

Have you ever considered the value of voluntary work?

A lot of events and arrangements depend on voluntary work, especially in Scandinavian countries where the cost of labour is extremely expensive. These events can simply not be a reality without the work power of volunteers that put in hard work to keep the wheels running.

What defines the concept of voluntary work is that there is an employer that often caries the title of “Project Manager”. The Project Manager is not really an employer since the employees (volunteers) is not really employees and do not have any legal obligation in connected to the job being carried out.

I have been involved in voluntary work up to several times and have experienced successful and less successful projects. I have tried to evaluate on what made the difference between a successful and less successful event and I will try to highlight some of the factors that any project manager working with volunteers should have in mind.

Let’s make it clear that people do not do voluntary work just because they do not have anything better to do. People do voluntary work with the expectation of being enriched in some way. This expectation of enrichment is the project managers’ greatest job to discover and then fulfil.

Some of the success factors that have made a good experience as a volunteer have been the feeling of team spirit. When I was volunteering for Scandinavia’s larges event for young entrepreneurs Emax Nordic , all the volunteers had a whole extra day before the event for team building games and socialising. It was very obvious that the management team had clear goals of making us as volunteers perform as a team and by that perform our absolute optimum. We all know that being a part of a group and the feeling of belonging, makes us confortable and that was what the Emax team successfully succeeded in making the volunteers feel.

Another important factor that makes voluntary work interesting is the potential of gaining relevant work experience. Some project managers believe that voluntary work should exist of easy or maybe even brain dead tasks. However this might not be the optimum way to attract voluntary staff. Volunteers are for the most people involved in many different challenges on many different levels. This also means that these people are likely to be well educated and have so much energy that they are willing to share it with others. Therefore do not underestimate the quality of your voluntary staff and challenge them with difficult tasks that take effort to complete.

One last factor that I would like to highlight is the power of appreciation. I have for the past two years been living at a sports academy for one of Denmark’s greatest sports teams and have daily been surrounded by professional athletes that are the best in their league. A part of the package is food served every evening. To keep the academy at float, a team of volunteers is working every week to serve food for the athletes. They are doing a great job and the whole concept of the sports academy would not be possible without them, therefore is it also important that they feel appreciated. Often it does not take much to make people feel appreciated and a little comment and praise is often all it takes.

To sum up: It takes team spirit, challenge, and appreciation to make voluntary work successful. Try to have in mind how you can contribute to make volunteers have a good experience and consider what difference you could make joining as a volunteer for any kind of event. One thing is sure; we all need to be better at showing our appreciation for volunteers that work hard for giving us all a great experience.

Remember without volunteers a lot of things we take for granted would simply not be possible.

What Network gives you!

Alexander Hold in workshop situation

This article is a front runner for an article about my visit to Vilnius, Lithuania, that I will publish during one of the next days. So stay tuned!

I have a motto sounding: “Network is Power” and have you followed me on the web, you will probably have noticed the phrase used a couple of times. I strongly believe that this sentence is true, and here follows a definition as well as an explanation.

For clarity of the subject we need to define Network, and there are among expert in the field of networking discussions about whether or not network is an actual action or a lifestyle. Both definitions seem reasonable as in corporation they harmonize and either of them can be excluded. Living networking, you need to take certain actions to fulfill the lifestyle, and if you take actions on networking it seems reasonable to say that you already are living the lifestyle.

Networking requires two basic skills which is the ability to listen and the ability to contribute to a discussion. When you possess these skills you can take action and you can start live you active lifestyle as a strong networker. Various authors have written interesting books on the matter on becoming a good networker, but the aspect that I have chosen to focus on in this article is what actions on creating a great network can give you.

What network gives you?

There are many opportunities for creating network both actively and also more randomly. Randomly is more connected to a lifestyle point of view, where general arrangement in listening carefully and communicate with the people around you. More actively you can join various networks and seek networking with likeminded people as yourself.

Personally I joined the Danish Young Enterprise Alumni Organization (YEAD) back in 2008 and I became a member of strong Danish network with entrepreneurial minded people like myself. My membership was an active action on creating a network and today I am thankful for what the network has given me. Through YEAD I was quickly introduced to the European Junior Achievement / Young Enterprise Alumni Network which opened a door to a European network with connections all over Europe.

What this network have given me is unbelievable, and not just can I claim that I have contacts and friends all over Europe. I have also traveled around to various locations and attended exclusive events and been educated by some of Europe’s most successful business- men and women. Since I joined YEAD as my first real network I have experienced more than I could ever have thought possible and I have made friends with some of the most inspiring people I have ever meet.

So why join a network!

My best argument for why you should join a network of any kind that interest you, is that you get on the mailing list and you start receiving exclusive opportunities that you would not have gotten elsewhere. As soon as you are in the inner circle a whole new world will open for you and things that you thought impossible or unbelievable suddenly seems possible and believable.

Network is a future investment!

I started out with “Network is Power” and I will end with “Network is Power”. Because on a future perspective your created network will might be good for other things than great experiences.You never know if the friend or connection you make today will end up being the CEO of a successful company that you will do business with in the future. Having established that relation will give you a head start in a future business situation and Network suddenly becomes a very powerful tool.

Network is Power but do not forget the basic skills of networking. You need to be able to contribute as well as receive.

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(09-10-2010) The article about my trip to Vilnius is now online and can be found right here an Alumni fairy-tale