All the netwoking gurus say – “for visibility join a committee”, “be a servant leader”,”volunteer for postions where you will be visible”.  Is this really the ‘holy grail’ of networking?  If you stand as a committee member will people come flooding to your door to buy your service?

The answer is no and here’s why.

Firstly it is unpaid – and as we have discussed before, Everything have a cost this includes TIME!.

Your time is actually priceless because you can’t buy it. You can buy other people’s time (by employing them) but everyday you are effectively giving away your time. If you are OK with that that’s fine.

Secondly (and this is possible worse than the first point) you are probably using your skill (whatever it may be) within the committee for free. YIPPEE!!!

Thirdly by being on a committee people tent to award you. ‘Authority,power’ This is the equivalent of putting on a yellow ‘visibility jacket’. People assume that you are in charge (even if it’s your first night on the committee) and they immediately look to you for answers to all manner of questions – and if you don’t know the answers – people think less of you.

Fourthly, you spend your time organising other people’s activities. If you are on a social committee,thats great, but let’s remember why you are there. Social activities are not the easiest things to organise and if they fail to impress, who is likely to get the blame – the organising committee of course!

Fifthly,you may find yourself involved with professional meeting go-ers. If your group gets involved with the local council campaign group or anyone who is paid to be at the meeting, START TO WORRY.

Why? It is in their vested interest to be AT the meeting rather than being there to help get things done. These are very subtly slightly different things..

Think about it – put yourself in the shoes of a paid professional official. Would you rush something through and risk getting it wrong (and therefore get the blame) or suggest another meeting “to discuss a few details” (which you will get paid for anyway)?

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be unhelpful to people who sit on committees or are in leadership positions. You really should always lend a hand, stack a few chairs, (if you can). hand out leaflets and badges etc. just remember why YOU decided to network in the first place.

This short article first appeared on the Networking University blog