Building Business and Community

 By: Lauren Spencer
Talk to someone about Santa Cruz and the first conversation topics that come up are typical for Northern California: beaches, blondes and, sometimes, birkenstocks. Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll find a vibrant community of people dedicated to giving back to one another through volunteering. Santa Cruz is home to many unique non-profit organizations and most are always welcoming new volunteers. As a real estate agent, it is your responsibility to know Santa Cruz as well as possible and non-profit involvement is a great way to increase your knowledge as well as your public visibility.

Community service offers many other benefits to REALTORS•. Maybe the most obvious of these is the emotional connections volunteers can make with the people they volunteer for and with. Helping people and animals in need cultivates self-confidence, happiness, and social skills. As a volunteer, you will enjoy both the personal fulfillment that comes from giving to others and the peace of mind that there are other community-minded individuals like you who could support you in a time of need. Well being in one area of life is very likely to carry over to others. Work-life balance is an integral part of a successful real estate career.

From a more practical standpoint, a volunteer position can generate business leads or even a hiring prospect. This is particularly salient in times of economic hardship: losing your job does not necessarily mean losing your purpose. Volunteering is a great asset because it allows you to showcase your skills and background and keep using your real estate knowledge outside of work. For example, a pro-bono consultation with a REALTORS• could be very valuable to an organization trying to secure its own land or building. An annual community event or festival, of which there are many in Santa Cruz, offers the perfect opportunity for using your skills in, say, marketing or public relations.

Festivals and annual events are, in fact, great for people who can't commit to a regular long-term volunteer position. There is a great deal of work to be done for these kinds of celebrations over a relatively short period, thus requiring a large group of volunteers with diverse skills and interests. Annual happenings like the Shakespeare Festival, the Santa Cruz County Fair, Mission Adobe Day and the Monterey Bay Birding Festival, among many others, cater to volunteers of many backgrounds. Perhaps one of the best things about community service for a busy realtor is that volunteer positions oftentimes allow you to call the shots. You set your hours, you decide how much (or how little) time you can commit, and you decide who (or what) you work with. Volunteering opportunities are a lot more flexible than you may think.

You also don't have to be handy or able-bodied to help out with volunteering projects. REALTORS• with physical barriers can also enjoy the benefits of community involvement. For those skilled with numbers, boards of directors for non-profit organizations are always seeking treasurers. If you're an animal person, rescue organizations and shelters welcome new volunteers and do indeed have positions that aren't physically demanding.

Santa Cruz is a welcoming place for newcomers partly because of the volunteers who support community projects. Agents are particularly well-suited to volunteering because of the exposure such an opportunity affords. Getting involved in a community service project can allow you to expand upon your knowledge and business contacts as well as discover things you never knew about the wonderful city you call home.
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