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By Greg Albright, CCO and Co-Founder, Production Solutions

When DMAW Board Member and Social Committee Chair, Mikaela King approached me to write a guest blog post on volunteerism, I was honored to write on something so near and dear to me.

A week before the 2012 Best of Direct reception, I was inspired by a funny story that industry leader, Tracy Lea told me about yours truly prior to being honored with the 2012 Award for Distinguished Achievement in Direct Marketing.   Evidently, I have this now-popular signature move where, evidently, I put my right arm around someone’s shoulder as I encourage a colleague to take an active role in an important industry function or cause.  Tracy coined it “Greg’s Right Hook.”  Clearly, I’ve “right-hooked” so many people in my direct marketing career that I’m famous (or is it notorious?) for this method of recruiting volunteers.

Reflecting on that further, I must admit that volunteering has done as much or more for my career, my business and my quality of life, as it has for the organizations I have been involved with.

Sure, there’s the feel-good factor, the pay-it-back or pay-it-forward factor, and solid client relations have been built over banquet tables and not-so-silent auction events.  Those are all extremely important things, but there’s more to it than that.  Volunteerism may the single most powerful career development and personal brand building tool available to direct marketers today.

Besides being able to learn from others’ experiences and getting to branch out and work side-by-side with industry colleagues, I’ve identified the top 5 “hidden” benefits of volunteering within the direct marketing industry based on my personal experiences these past 30 years in the industry.

1). You get to work with new people that you may never have had the opportunity to know before: you can never learn too much from too many people.

2). You get to learn from others’ experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

3). You get to develop your personal brand: shine on!

4). You get to “preview” potential employees: watch them in action and see if they are a good fit for your own team before making an offer.

5). You get to “test drive” potential employers: whether you are looking for a career move now or in the future, what a great way to kick the proverbial tires.

When you read the list, some may come across sounding self-serving at first blush, but if you understand the “why’s” behind my reasoning, you will probably nod your head in surprised agreement, and will hopefully start volunteering tomorrow!  And, trust me DMAW won’t turn you away when you step up to the plate.  We are always looking for talent and enthusiasm, energy and ingenuity.  I started out on one committee three decades ago, and now, I’m writing blogs about my successful volunteering efforts and recruitment skills.  You have to start somewhere…why not with the DMAW?

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Greg was so inspired by his DMAW Award for Distinguished Achievement in DM and the important role that volunteerism has played in his life, he recently launched The Right Hook blog with the hope that he will inspire industry professionals by sharing his secrets to a rewarding career through industry engagement.  The Right Hook highlights the power of entrepreneurial curiosity, passion for innovation, and Greg’s deep belief that working together leads to success for everyone.