This is a guest post on best practices around social networking from Nicole Williams. For similar posts check out our series on networking tips and tricks here. – Ed.

Millions of professionals donate their time volunteering that impacts the lives of others, but it turns out volunteering is as good for your career as it is to those you help. Here’s how:

Helping Others Matters – All that time you spent raising record amounts of money, the year-end event you planned to perfection all felt like real work and…it was. New research from LinkedIn shows that one out of every five hiring managers in the U.S. agree they have hired a candidate because of their volunteer work experience. Your volunteer experience counts and if you don’t include it in your profile, on your resume or when you’re negotiating for a promotion you’re not getting the credit you deserve.

Test-Drive Your Passion – A truism of career success is that passion correlates with talent and talent translates to reward (both financial and emotional).  One of the safest ways of test-driving your passion as a career is to volunteer your talents.  Not only do you get to try your hand at a repertoire of new skills and experiences in a low-risk forum, but you’ll also be showcasing these talents to a whole host of peers who may just happen to have the connections you need to get hired.

You Never Know Who You’re Going to Meet – The majority of career enhancing opportunities come through relationships and volunteering exposes you to people you wouldn’t encounter otherwise.  And get this: volunteer relationships are particularly beneficial since many of the folks you interact with while volunteering are usually driven, conscientious professionals who can be a great referral. Volunteering offers a whole new world of qualified and valuable connections.

Get Noticed / Motivated - The most successful people in the world dedicate their efforts to a cause that extends beyond themselves and your boss and / or hiring manager are well aware of this. In this hypercompetitive world of work, volunteering not only provides you the opportunity to showcase your talents and experiences, but it also allows you to demonstrate compassion and commitment.

Add the newVolunteer Experience & Causes” field to your LinkedIn Profile now. In the new “Volunteer Experience & Causes” field, LinkedIn members can add volunteer positions, causes they care about, and organizations they support. This ranges from Big Brothers Big Sisters, and DonorsChoose.org, to American Red Cross, or Teach for America.

Share with us how volunteering has helped your career in the comments section. Or, talk to us @linkedin.