By Mike Moradian
We all love reading about good Samaritans who are making a difference in their community. These stories bring us to tears, make us laugh and restore our faith in a world that can often seem like a very dark place.
But what if we went a step further? What if we stopped scrolling and started acting?
Making a difference can benefit your community, as well as your professional and personal life. Even the smallest things can have a major impact on the world.
I challenge you to start making a difference today. Start here.
Challenge #1: Volunteer at a charity event.
Volunteering is important for the organization and for the community benefiting from the event. Homeless shelters, pet adoption agencies and various other charity groups depend on people to donate their time to help them stay in operation.
You will also benefit from engaging in volunteer work. Not only will it give you an improved perspective on life, but also it helps you develop more skills that can help your career.
In a 2014 study conducted by Millennial Branding and Beyond.com, 83 percent of the 2,978 respondents said companies are looking for communication skills. They are valued as the second most important attribute, second only to a positive attitude (84 percent).
What better way to develop a positive attitude and build your communication skills than by helping others through volunteering? You’ll learn other crucial skills, such as critical thinking and social skills, and improve your time management while spreading goodwill and making people smile.
Challenge #2: Join a social group.
Social groups are active members of their communities, participating in various events that raise awareness and funding for specific causes. There are groups of all shapes and sizes, and they include all types of people making a contribution.
Use online resources like MeetUp or Facebook Groups to find people with common interests. These groups could be run clubs, crafting groups, book clubs or academic societies that connect people in meaningful ways.
When you meet new people, you are sharing ideas, learning new things and expanding your professional network. Make sure you network in an authentic manner that is founded on genuine interest in helping one another.
Related: Networking 101
Most important, stay in touch with the members of your social group even after you’re no longer involved. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is losing touch with your connections. An OfficeTeam survey from 2014 found that 28 percent of senior managers surveyed say that failing to keep in touch is a major networking mistake. Put forth the effort to stay connected.
Ultimately, you want to build and maintain meaningful relationships.
Challenge #3: Support local art scenes.
Another great way to network is to support the art community in your area. For example, tour museums, visit art shows, seek out craft vendors and donate to support music education.
Being around creative types can help you understand things in a new and exciting way. Network with local creatives to improve your imagination and develop innovative ways of thinking and problem solving.
Remember, with networking, you’re sharing ideas, learning new things and improving your personal development. When you can learn more about yourself and find your passions, you are better equipped to engage in making a difference in your community.
Challenge #4: Arrange to speak publicly.
Share your expertise in something you’re passionate about by setting up a speaking event at a local library or recreation center. This project requires you to use several critical skills.
Aside from the obvious one—communication—you’ll also learn how to present information in a clear, meaningful way. This is a creative endeavor that involves building a multimedia project that could consist of video, slides, written materials, audio recordings and other media to engage your audience.
You can also learn marketing techniques that involve reaching out to your network and connecting with people who might be interested in your presentation. Engage in social media to spread awareness, create signage and build a website to brand yourself.
These challenges are all win-win situations. You’re serving your community, connecting with new people, and learning a lot about yourself, all while benefiting your professional life.
How are you making a difference? Share your experiences in the comments section below!
Mike Moradian is the executive director of HonorSociety.org, an honor society that recognizes academic achievement and provides valuable resources and tools to its members. Connect with Mike and HonorSociety.org on Twitter at @HonorSocietyorg.