Great Business Ideas: Benefit from Volunteerism (HARVEY MACKAY)

Great Ideas for your Small Business:

Benefit from Volunteerism (HARVEY MACKAY)

From envelope salesman to best-selling author of Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty (Dou- bleday; 1999) to entrepreneurial guru, Harvey Mack- ay makes a big impact on the business world every day. He’s always selling. Selling himself, selling his books and columns and, of course, selling his envelopes. Among his pursuits, Mackay is a founder and major partner in Cogni-Tech Corporation, a company that develops and dis- tributes computer software.

He admits that after he completes his big-ticket, customized corporate presentations, he follows up later with the decision makers and usually lands a big envelope account for his Minnesota-based company, Mackay Envelope Corporation, founded in 1959. He’s also pushing “Sharkware,” his contact management software, as an easy way to keep track of all those people you meet.

But although he’s known for his for-profit ventures, he also knows how to give back to the community. A veteran networker, Mackay believes strongly in the power of volunteerism. “I’ve spent 25 percent of my life in volunteerism,” Mackay said. “When I started, I didn’t realize that I would become a better speaker because I had to lead. I became a better sales- person because I had to raise money from all my friends.”

Mackay, who has served on many charitable and cultural boards, recommends joining a group you have an interest in or aiding a cause you feel passionate about. If you’ve lost relatives to cancer, raise money for cancer research. If you adore modern art, become a benefactor. Try ushering at your church or synagogue. It takes so little time—and it can bring you into contact with a lot of new people. “Believe it or not, you’ll become a better networker, you’ll have more contacts, and you’ll also be doing good.”

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Mackay’s moral: “There can be surprising rewards for thankless jobs.”