Networking (part 2): Sharing Your Passion

A while back, I wrote a post about networking and the importance of connecting on a real human level, not just a “so where do you work” level. After continuing to go to more networking events, I’ve realized something else that is key to successfully connecting with people: sharing your passion. To be more specific, if there’s something you want, share that with everyone you meet.

A good example of this: When I was in college, I played in a band that got some attention in the Dallas/Ft. Worth music scene (yes, I’m originally from Texas…shh!). Lance, a good friend of ours who was largely responsible for getting that band together, decided from the outset to be our booking agent and band manager. When he was a teenager, he started a production company called Spune Productions with the goal of bringing concerts to small West Texas towns where the kids wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to see live music.

I noticed that every single person we met who was in the music scene – and even a lot of people who weren’t – he’d tell them about Spune and about his passion to bring great music and well-known bands to the small town where our college was. But he wasn’t just sharing his goal…he was sharing his heart, his aspirations. At the time, I saw that is a bit self-centered. But looking back, I see that he was bringing other people into his vision in a way that got them excited, in a way that made them want to join in the mission and help in whatever way they could.

Because of his networking savvy, within a year my band that he was managing had played shows with a number of really well-known indie bands at the time and even played with the Grammy Award-winning band Switchfoot. Lance moved to Dallas after graduation and several years later was named Promoter of the Year there. Since then he’s also been named “Best Booking Agent” and “Best Record Label” by local press. To say the least, he’s having continued success with his business and is doing what he always wanted to do.

He knew what he wanted to achieve, and he told almost everyone he met about it. And it worked. I want to adopt this approach in telling people about my passion to help businesses and organizations communicate effectively and authentically through social media and grow thriving online communities that lead not only to more business but also improve the lives of their customers. I want to tell them how their company (whether for-profit or nonprofit) can have a mission that can make the world a better place. And it all starts with a handshake and “Hi, my name is Matthew.”

Your one minute commercial

I just read an article that insists a business must be able to communicate its difference in 30 seconds or less. Then, once you have someone’s attention, you need to have everything in order to go into more detail, whether that is in a conversation or through a web page or social media. I’ve heard this same concept encouraged for job searching and networking. In that case, it’s referred to as your “one minute commercial” or your “elevator speech.” The point is when you meet a potential employer, client or someone you want to network with, you should be able to concisely explain who you are, what you want to do for people or businesses and how people or businesses benefit from what you do—and all in the time it takes you to go between floors on an elevator.

When I first heard this idea, I considered it somewhat ludicrous. At the time I liked to think of myself as a very complex individual who can’t be explained or “sold” in a minute or less. I’ve grown up a bit since then, but, more importantly, I’m finally doing something I’m passionate about. And when you get to that point, you want to tell anyone and everyone you meet about what you are doing and what aspirations you have. But I think the key thing about the one minute commercial is realizing that the “who you are” part may be the least important. Sure you may need to throw out some credentials initially, but I’ve found that the energy and enthusiasm with which you tell about how you want to help others is what gets people’s attention.

After 31 years, I’ve finally started sharing what I’m doing with almost everyone—because I’ve finally started doing something I believe in. But I can’t tell you exactly what that is here because this post isn’t about that. I don’t usually like to “boil things down” to a moral, but I would say this: If you can’t think of anything to say in your elevator speech, then you’re probably not passionate about what you do. And if you’re not passionate about what you do, you’re not doing what you should be doing.