At networking events in the corporate world, the conversations are usually less than inspiring. It’s an exchange of business cards, a handshake.

SAP’s Month of Service (MOS) provides an alternative networking experience. It offers an opportunity to dig into the projects and causes you are truly passionate about, while making a difference within your community. An added bonus is that you build your social network and strengthen your personal brand.

How networking through MOS has helped me

I can personally attest to how rewarding my experience within the nonprofit world has been. As Secretary of the Board to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, I work with amazing people; educators, philanthropists, captains of industry and like-minded people who are making a difference for those less fortunate. As a result, I have an incredible network that has enhanced my personal and professional lives.

I spend much of my personal time out with the community, working with organizations including Bellarmine College Prep, Silicon Valley Education Foundation, the Diocese of San Jose, U.S. Air Force Academy Athletics, the Tech, and the schools my three children attended. I feel passionately connected to the community in the Bay Area as my family has been here since 1820. This is my home.

As fortunate as we all are at SAP, there are many in the community who are not. My wife volunteers in Alum Rock with Christo Rey high school, and through our conversations, I learn more about the challenges for the next generation of Silicon Valley. I feel a responsibility to support the young people in my community, as they will be the next generation of technologists, innovators, and leaders who will make a difference.

Networking and Strengthening our Business Relationships

Every October over the past seven years, SAP and Adobe bring together around 300 volunteers to build a school playground with KaBOOM! This project gives us a meaningful way to support schools and improve kids’s lives. We also realized in our first year that this shared community service helped us foster a stronger business relationship with Adobe because we trusted in each other more. That trust has carried us through many discussions, negotiations and partnerships over the years.

The skills that you gain within the nonprofit realm are extremely valuable and transferable to the business world, regardless of your field. Most nonprofit organizations need skills-based volunteerism that we can provide. The key is to take part in something that interests you to ensure you stay involved. By doing so myself, I have built a network of authentic relationships as well as strengthened my skills on both personal and professional levels. I urge all of you to do the same!

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