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Networking 101 – Networking with Passion

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I have been asked several times, over the last few years or so a question that has caused me great pain in my personal capacity.

The question is: “How do you find your passion?”

For those of you who know me, you know that my passion is possibly one of my greatest strengths. I have been doing what I do best for in excess of 40 years now, and I have no idea, and cannot even begin to think of what it would be like to do something else! So living my passion as it were, is something that is natural to me, and whilst I can understand to some extent that many people do work or operate in a field that they are not passionate about, due to financial constraints, lack of education, or opportunity (or whatever other reason there maybe), I still find it terribly difficult to understand how they could not know what their passion is. My question in return is always “How do you go through life, without a passion”. On some level, I understand that I am very fortunate to be able to do the work that I am passionate about, but then I guess I also believe that to some extent, you make your own “luck” and that you are drawn in some inextricable way to what you are best suited for. For me that was a ‘no brainer’ for others it appears that it is something that they haven’t even thought about.

My answer to the question posed above, is usually “Well if you had to win the Lotto and money was no longer an issue, what would you do for a living?” For me the answer is very easy as I would continue to do exactly what I do now – there is no question about it! For some, the answer has been a ‘blank stare’ which leads me to believe that they don’t even dare to dream, let alone have any dreams. Again this is very sad and difficult for me to understand. What do you have in life, if you have no dream? In my opinion – you merely exist! For others, the answer is “Well, I would never have to work again, so I would do nothing”. Again for me, this is a very confusing answer – I could never do ‘nothing’, and even going on holiday and leaving my laptop behind, poses quite a challenge for me.

So how do people find their passions – perhaps you all can assist me with this one?

You see, without your passion, you cannot brand yourself properly and until you are in the branding process, networking effectively just doesn’t happen!

Pause for a moment and ponder, how would I refer someone who had no ambition or branding or passion – in short someone who has no idea who they actually are and what they do – to someone who may need a service or a product? What kind of work or service would that person give.

In referring someone (let’s call her Jane) to perform say a bookkeeping function to someone else (let’s call him Mike), what I am doing, in reality, is telling Mike that Jane is a good bookkeeper and that she is reliable and that she will take pride in her work and will work diligently on his books and will not steal from him. I am giving Jane my credibility and endorsement. I am adding value to the service I supply in my own personal capacity, to Mike. Because I am passionate about what I do, I am diligent in what I do and my deliverables are of a high standard. That is the only measure that Mike has, so he will automatically assume that because I have referred Jane, the standard of Jane’s work will be the same as mine.

Now the next question’ of course, would have to be – “Is the standard of Jane’s work as high as mine”. The reality of this is that it would be highly unlikely that it is. Why? Well because Jane does not really enjoy what she is doing, she is not going to give it her full attention or focus, which means that the work will probably be half-hearted and mistakes would probably be frequent.

What does that do to my credibility? Will Mike take a referral from me again or will he wonder if I am going to send him someone who is of no use to him as he has to double-check everything that she produces? I doubt it! Where is my “value add” now – pretty much down the toilet!

So quite clearly, in my opinion, the first thing that you have to know before you even start to think about networking successfully, is what your PASSION is.