Is it volunteer week or not? The 'spotlight on' weeks can be rather confusing - and dates can differ globally. Still, I've started a series of posts on volunteering (gift work) and discovering that it is actually National Volunteering Week in one country, has given me the excuse I need to write the next piece.
The 3rd step in my volunteering journey saw my active involvement in one of my business school Alumni groups. When we talk about the value of a business school education, there are a few different schools of though (pardon the pun). For me, it was, and still remains the lifetime value and the power of the network. Like anything however, this needs nurturing and attention.
Was it another happy accident? The programme that I was on, meant face time every few months, and whilst I had remote contact globally with others on the journey and at points spent a lot of time in the ground (see pics, who wouldn't?!) there was something to be said for investing some time in building connections with the wider community early on - enter, the Henley London Alumni Group.
I regularly started attending these once a month, informal events. Over time, as in any network, it became clear who the core attendees were and soon enough I was one of them also. Eventually, it was also a no-brainer that I play 'host' when the committee members weren't about. When the invitation came to formally join the committee, I accepted and looked after the marketing.
It didn't feel very different to the 18 months prior and I as the saying goes, when you do something because you want to, it's largely fun. It didn't feel like work, and in this particular volunteer scenario, it wasn't particularly time consuming. I signed up to a '1 year tenure' which simply rolled for a little while. Eventually life happened and I started to pull back after I took on my 4th volunteer role. For about 6 months however, the two ran concurrently.
I may no longer be active here but the current team continue with the consistency of these events. I calculate that the group is probably now been going in some way for over 30 years. As I referred to in my previous piece on gift work, the longevity of a volunteer cause or endeavour relies on fresh blood coming in at the right time and a core team in place.
I still look back on this time fondly. I remain an active member of a global network that will serve me and that I will continue to serve over the course of my lifetime. These days it is pretty cool to 'join-the-dots' when I meet Henley Alumni through daily life. This year I found one in my team in my current volunteer environment. We'd all do well to remember our points of anchoring - they serve well as ice breakers and often lead to relationships that blossom.
Henley Business School - https://www.henley.ac.uk/alumni/community-and-networking
Rupa Datta - Founder, Portfolio People