"You seem like a great candidate, but don’t quite have the experience we’re looking for.”

Sound familiar? Have you been a part of the cycle where you don't have experience so you can't get experience? Well, how do you escape?

Volunteer: Find a nonprofit, local organization, team or group that needs your professional talents. Then help them out to build your repertoire of skills.

Reach out: Ask friends and family if they may know of someone that needs help in the area you excel in. They may just need another hand on deck to get to a pet project you can contribute to.

Network: Meet new people, be interested in what they have to say, and see if you might be able to help each other out through a trade of services or referrals

According to Jennifer Philips, AMA Houston Board Member, the best time to do this is when you don't need anything from anyone. "When the time arises that you might," Philips said, " you will have a strong network to reach out to."

To get the most out of your volunteering, putting yourself out there, network, and remember that it's not easy. However, to gain the experience you want and need, you need to become the following:

A great communicator.

Be able to explain who you are, what you can offer and what you are looking for. By being able to connect these three things together, people can understand the value you bring and will have a greater understanding of what you are trying to move toward.

How many times have you been asked, "What are you looking for?" or even something as simple as "Who are you?". Preparing your pitches before you need them is just like preparing your network before you need it. By giving people an idea of who you are and what you want, you are providing them with that prompt to help them remember you later for opportunities.

Comfortable asking for opportunities. And keep asking.

People may forget what you were looking for. It takes an average of seven times of hearing the same message before people remember it. Keep asking for the next opportunity, you never know who might jump at it. That's why it's important to remind people of your message. You may have met someone at another event, or at another AMA Houston Job Roundtable, but keep letting people know that you're looking and interested in a particular niche. When an opportunity arises, don't forget to ask for it!

That opportunity may be volunteering. AMA Houston is the largest American Marketing Association chapter in the world and it is a 100% volunteer-run organization. "Whether it's strengthening your existing skill set or gaining new skills, there's something for everyone," Philips said. 

Open to new people and experiences. Or get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

New business, new ideas, new ventures-- these all require an element of "new". By being open to the unexpected, you can make the most of chance encounters that may be beneficial to you. This is another way of reminding yourself to say "yes" instead of shutting down with "can't", "shouldn't", or "not right now."

Philips said she met so many talented people through her involvement with AMA Houston that  many of those connections became friends. "One of those people is my now boss, Michelle LeBlanc." Philips said. "At the time I met her, she was the President of the organization and asked me to join the board. I was laid off from my company when the Oil & Gas downturn was in full-swing and Michelle immediately expressed interest in having me join her team – which I accepted!"

AMA Houston is one organization where you can volunteer, find projects and network. AMA is volunteer-run and there to help build expertise and connect people.

Learn how to become a volunteer or become a member and start your network today. 

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