How to lose weight, feel younger, rub shoulders with movers n shakers and make friends in city hall.
This past summer I got involved in something that provided all these benefits without joining a cult, going to a seminar or having a drill sergeant like personal trainer yell at me. It was four months of Jim Cramer style intensity and I enjoyed almost every second of it. Interested? Want to get in on it? What if I told you it was also the best networking you’ll ever do?
I got involved in a campaign for my hometown’s City Council. A friend who is very involved in our community ran for a seat that opened because of the untimely passing of a sitting member. It was an opportunity for her to take the next step in public service just as our town is transitioning into a real city. We assembled a top notch campaign team and worked non-stop for four months. We developed a campaign plan and budget and our small team did the whole shebang from yardsigns to doorbelling to fundraisers to appearing at weekly candidate forums. There was an important deadline nearly every day and we worked until we couldn’t stay awake any longer. While we achieved all our campaign goals except the big one, the benefits we received for our hard work were as unexpected (by me at least) as they were great.
First, democracy is not a spectator sport and I feel that getting involved is part of our duty as citizens. Being involved gave me a tremendous appreciation for our system of government and the people who step up to run, and this includes our opponents. Whining from the sidelines never changes anything and we are so lucky to live in a country where we as average people can have a voice, and make a difference. Your city or town council may not seem very illustrious but it’s the front lines of government, where the rubber meets the road. The President or your senators back in DC won’t fix that pothole or put up better markings for that crosswalk that your children use every day but your local council will have their ears open for a chance to improve your hometown.
Second is the opportunity to get to know the people who represent you and those who work for you at City Hall. Being involved means you will meet the people who set the course and those who make it happen daily; having a face to go with your name will predispose them to at least listening to your request or point of view. On this point you don’t even have to get involved in a campaign, just attend a council meeting occasionally and especially when the agenda includes something important to you. Most councilmembers appreciate that you took the time to show up and you will usually be one of only a few.
The third benefit is the best networking you can ever do. There’s no better icebreaker than calling up business leaders and asking them to support the cause or candidate you are working for. Even if they say no you’ve made contact with them and put your name in front of them. This goes equally for working on charitable campaigns as well. In our growing city some of the biggest movers and shakers are developers. If I cold called them about an apartment deal they probably never take my call but because they have an interest in what the council decides they at least listen to my pitch and I get my foot in the door. Many times those who do support your cause will be happy to refer you to others as well. On top of that you will meet other involved people working on other races and by attending their functions allows you to meet still more influential people.
The lose weight and feel younger part? Well I doorbelled over three thousand houses and all that walking definitely took the extra pounds off. Plus, working with a great group of motivated, dedicated and enthusiastic people definitely raises your energy level and gets you up in the morning raring to go! Getting involved and supporting a cause has personal benefits far beyond the good work that you’re doing.