How to Showcase Volunteer Work on LinkedIn: The 2023 Guide for Small Business Owners

Volunteering does more than just give back to your community. When featured strategically on platforms like LinkedIn, it can directly support small business owners in landing new opportunities, partnerships, and roles.

But simply tossing up a few bullet points under “Volunteer Experience” won’t cut it. To unlock the full power of showcasing your volunteer work, you’ll need to take an intentional approach backed by data.

As a small business coach who has helped dozens of entrepreneurs leverage volunteer work, I’ve seen firsthand the tangible career benefits it offers. This comprehensive guide will take you through exactly how to highlight volunteer experience effectively using tips tailored for small business owners.

The Powerful Impacts of Volunteering

The data speaks for itself — volunteer work pays off in very real ways:

  • 82% of hiring managers would prefer candidates with volunteering experience (Deloitte Access Economics)
  • 58% of talent professionals say volunteering experience is equivalent to formal work experience (LinkedIn)

Additionally, volunteering allows you to build hard and soft skills like leadership, communication, and resourcefulness while expanding your professional network.

But perhaps most importantly for entrepreneurs: volunteering strategically aligns with your target audience and partners.

By investing your time supporting local schools, nonprofit organizations, chambers of commerce, etc., you increase visibility exactly where it matters most.

I can’t tell you how many clients have landed major partnerships, collaborations, and even new revenue streams by thoughtfully showcasing volunteer work aligned with their business goals.

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Volunteer Section

Hopefully I’ve convinced you to add volunteer work to your LinkedIn profile — but simply tacking on a few random gigs won’t cut it.

Follow this step-by-step checklist to optimize your Volunteer Experience section:

Lead with your most impressive and relevant achievement. Recruiters glance at profiles quickly, so highlight your crowning volunteer accomplishment first.

Quantify accomplishments whenever possible. For example, “Raised $50K in donations as Fundraising Chair with measurable social media and outreach strategies” shows tangible impact.

Emphasize skills that transfer. Draw explicit connections between abilities gained volunteering and those required for roles you want.

Cut irrelevant entries. Focus on showcasing volunteer work tied to your entrepreneurship journey vs. one-off or disconnected gigs.

Customize each description individually. Avoid duplication by tailoring bullets and details to tell a compelling story about the impact you made in each organization.

By optimizing this section strategically, you guide readers towards the most compelling aspects of your experience quickly.

Volunteer Gig Key Skills Showcased
School Mentor Leadership, communication, empathy
Startup Weekend Organizer Event planning, networking, critical thinking
Animal Shelter Coordinator Project management, social media marketing, volunteer recruitment

The table above summarizes some of the top transferable abilities volunteers build across different types of roles along with examples. Identify such ties in your experience explicitly on your profile.

School vs. Career Volunteering: Key Differences

Should you highlight college service trips and student organization leadership the same way as professional skills-based volunteering programs? What about ongoing charity vs. short corporate volunteer events?

The answer lies in showcasing the aspects most relevant to your entrepreneurial journey. Here’s a quick guide on optimizing volunteer work from school vs. your career:

👨‍🎓 For student volunteer experience, emphasize skills gained and professional associations rather than one-off tasks performed. Connect achievements to career goals.

👔 For professional volunteering aligned with business objectives, quantify outcomes and highlight connections made. Focus less on responsibilities and more on measurable impact.

No matter where you are in your journey, the keys are conveying transferable abilities, showcasing results, and telling a compelling story.

Meet People Where They Are: Volunteering for Connections

Thus far we’ve focused on how volunteering directly builds your skills and brand on LinkedIn. However, some of the greatest value comes from expanding your network.

Every nonprofit organization, community program, chamber meeting has people already aligned with your goals. By showing up consistently and delivering tangible value as a volunteer, you get unprecedented access to contacts otherwise difficult to reach.

I’ve seen entrepreneurs land major partnerships simply by volunteering strategically. One client hosted a monthly pitch competition for local youth entrepreneurs as a chamber leader, resulting in collaborations with multiple members.

So be sure to connect with fellow volunteers and organization leadership on LinkedIn. Share your volunteer stories and contributions online and in-person. Meet people where they are and reinforce connections through your profile.

Readers: Now It‘s Your Turn

Showcasing thoughtful, strategic volunteer experience yields immense dividends for entrepreneurs. You strengthen abilities, align with key audiences, and make meaningful networking inroads. Not to mention grow as a leader while giving back.

It does require an intentional approach — simply listing random volunteer gigs won’t cut it. Hopefully this guide provided tips to optimize your LinkedIn profile and unlock the full power of your volunteer work.

Now over to you, readers:

  • What strategies have you found effective for showcasing volunteer experience?
  • What types of volunteer work have advanced your business goals most?
  • Are there any other tips you’d add for small business owners and entrepreneurs?

Look forward to exchanging ideas in the comments below!