Computer World Explains:

Many of us devote time to causes that are near and dear to our hearts, but not everyone considers translating such activities into career opportunities. Still, networking through philanthropy (or organic networking) is a long-term strategy with lifetime benefits.

The key is to put the cause first and networking second. A salesperson might join a charitable organization with a noted CEO on its board in hopes of scoring some face time during a fundraising event. But such superficial interactions won't generate any traction. However, sincere involvement with an organization you care about can help you build solid, long-lasting relationships with your fellow volunteers.

"Without question, working side by side with a diverse group of accomplished professionals who are passionate about giving back helps to form significantly stronger long-term bonds," says Dave Ballai, CIO and vice president of content operations at Reed Technology, a provider of electronic content management services. "I have never ventured into the nonprofit arena with the notion that it will help my career by expanding my network. But, ironically, that's precisely what happens over time, organically. I've met some truly inspiring and amazing individuals who likely would never return a cold call in the absence of such a relationship. The binding element is the like-minded respect and caring for others -- that has to be first."

Read more at Computer World.