We’re all looking for proof.

Proof that an idea works, that a candidate is the best fit or that a company’s service will benefit our business. That’s what you need to know before you can trust a vendor enough to partner with them. And in the sales world, you often have a precious amount of very limited time to prove your mettle and show your value to a prospective customer. You’re up against the competition’s flashy idea or cut rate pricing. And oftentimes you don’t even know who your competition is, making it harder to adjust your approach. But there’s another way to show your clients and prospects what you’re made of: You can do it by example.

As so many business decisions are based on trust, getting to know your prospects better is ideal but not necessarily the easiest thing to pull off. Aside from shadowing their every move (which may land you with a restraining order), you may not have the best opportunity to prove that you’re the “one” or show what you’re capable of. [I recommend a heartfelt rendition of this Daniel Bedingfield classic. Sorry. I have Friday brain. – Lisa] Wouldn’t it be great if you could put your business skills to work to not only help an organization you care about but also to build a live case study for you as a professional?

Boards and committees may be your answer.

Yup, this is me once again tell you that the way to nurture sales relationships in an online world is get offline and connect with people in real life. Try and wrap your brain around it.

Involvement on boards and committees does a few things for you. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes effort. But you’re putting time and effort into other sales activities already, aren’t you? Taking the time to get involved with an organization whose mission motivates you or whose purpose is close to your heart provides you with the opportunity to not only help said organization but show the other professionals on the board what you have to offer. Serving on committees and participating in meetings gives you a chance to present your ideas while helping their cause at the same time. Inevitably, all boards and committees need a variety of help. Is running events your thing? What board doesn’t need help with that? Organization your game? What committee’s contact database doesn’t need help? And there’s a plethora of opportunities for those blessed with marketing skill and know-how.

OK, I’m sold on this board and committee idea. Where do I start?

If you’re new to your industry, as a young professional or through a change in career, start with industry associations. They are often in need of help and would welcome the energy you will bring with your first board appointment. This is a good place to meet like-minded individuals who share your passion and knowledge and can often be the source of training and information. It’s a great place to get your feet wet while helping further your industry.

Where else can you look? Many different places. Your college could probably use your help and would love to have you reengaged. Do you have a charity or not-for-profit that’s close to your heart? This will give you the opportunity to help an organization in need that’s important to you. That’s what we call a true win-win. Maybe there’s not a board position available at the moment, but that’s OK. Many board positions are filled by people who originally worked on an organization’s committee or event. Those opportunities will open up to you if you put in the time.

Will participating in boards and committees always result in immediately work opportunities? No. Not all fellow board members will be prospects, but, as is the way of today’s world, people move to new opportunities all the time. The seeds you plant today can produce deep rewards down the road. The friend you make today could become the Digital Marketing Manager of that hot tech startup in six months.

Again, this tactic can take some time to mature. But do a good job and you’ll build trust from your fellow committee peeps. One of our largest clients learned about us through my involvement on an industry board. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.