Enlisting “Volunteers” For Your Personal Brand

“Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.” Peter Drucker

I always roll my eyes when a social media maven attempts to bully their way into better customer service with something along the lines of “MY audience will _____(fill-in-the-blank) if you don’t ______.”

They presume they “own” their followers. That their posse will move in lock-step because, well, they said so.

It doesn’t work that way.

Because Peter Drucker was right: EVERYBODY is now a volunteer.

Your audience has a dizzying variety of choices—and can easily decide to make a new one.

So how do you enlist—and keep—your own volunteer base?

You start with the simple recognition that everyone you touch has competing options for their eyeballs and brain space.

You respect them.

Which means you are honor-bound to be exquisitely clear—about what matters to you and why it should matter to your sweet-spot audience. Show them how your “big idea” can rock their world.

Anything less is ultimately a waste of their time—and yours.

Your voice is crucial. It must be a consistent and real reflection of your value system, your point of view and your passions. Call it your personal brand, but it’s really your promise. What do you stand for? What truly matters?

It’s that clarity that will give you the courage to say no. To turn some volunteers away at the door—preferably kindly, because they may stay in your orbit and send the right people your way. To occasionally “fire” a volunteer, but with a graceful exit that paves the way for future recruits.

Enlisting and engaging the right volunteers is mission-critical to building your dynamic—and enduring—personal brand.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below:  What triumphs—or challenges—have you had in enlisting volunteers?

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  • This made me think and realize I have not doe enough “recruiting” lately. So please excuse me. I have work that needs to be done now. Thanks Rochelle.

  • When I saw just the title and tease it made me think about my #1 “vol” who looks out for me is such a big way. Never used the “vol” word in this context; perhaps because of its use in political verbiage. The concept works. Foremost, clearly we must view our clients as vols. A recent example” The president of a local I advise reached out (unsolicited – yes I apprised him of the meeting but I made no “ask”) to a president of a sister local shortly after I made my pitch to its board. The deal got sealed within a week and the new client’s president made a point of mentioned a weekend call from his labor colleague.
    I aim and try to be nice to all but tend to focus my attentions to those I believe can help; the key involves selecting properly and recognizing when some with influence, power and connections may not have “room” for you in their “party” — in those cases, just continue to be nice and respectful (other watch your interactions); at the same time your good vols may request attention to matters that yield nothing immediately but the good vols essentially pay back your attention in kind.

  • I must agree,sometimes it is best to turn some away,especially if none are benefited by the union.And it is always best to be kind.Thanks Rochelle for your pearls of insight.

  • I believe I read this Drucker quote 20 years ago and started applying it immediately with great success. Yet here we are 2014 and it’s still a controversial and far from the norm. It needs to be repeated. We’re not just hired help.

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