The more and more I reflect upon how I’ve used social media to grow my own personal brand (as well as observe others), the more I’ve come to realize that there are two things that are required for success: passion and expertise.  Passion is your excitement and enjoyment around a certain activity that interests you and expertise  is your knowledge in a particular field.  Expertise is typically based on experience and talent, which is accumulated over time, whereas passion comes natural and from the heart.  The idea of marrying passion with expertise is one of my big messages from the point forward.  I’ve started mentioning it in my speeches and it will appear more and more in my other materials because it’s why people are becoming successful in this web 2.0 world.  They are discovering that they can build expertise around their passion and you can too!

Passion and expertise

Passion: You can’t be extremely successful without passion in what you do because it’s too easy to quit and change jobs or career paths.  Passion is the fuel you’ll need to put in the necessary workload in order to achieve your dreams.  When you’re passionate about what you do, obstacles and criticism won’t get you down.  Instead, you’ll remain focused and excited every time you wake up in the morning.  People will want to join you based on mutual interest and the energy that will be radiating off of you (which is more visible online than you would think).  A lot of people succeed without passion, but there definitions of success are different than mine.  My definition of success if making money doing what you love.  If you aren’t passionate, but you’re making a lot of money at a company you hate, then, from my perspective, you aren’t successful.

Expertise: If you don’t know what you’re doing, you won’t be able to accomplish much of anything.  You can be the most passionate person in the world, but if you’re unable to service your customer or clients, then you won’t make money regardless.  Since we all need to make money to survive, expertise becomes just as, if not more, important than passion.  It’s easier for us to gain more expertise in a shorter time period if we’re passionate because we can accumulate more experience and skills by working a hundred hours per week instead of just forty.  Expertise is what goes on your resume, while your passion is the anxiousness and smile you bring to your interview.

5 steps to unlocking both

1.  Reflect on the work experiences you’ve had in the past, as well as all the activities you’ve participated in and how they’ve made you feel.  While you participate in activities, work-related or not, there is a certain feeling you’ll get inside when you enjoy them.  Whether it’s a major project you’ve worked on or a particular sport that you’ve participated in, the same feelings, emotions and excitement are there. 

2.  Get a piece of paper and jot down your skills and passions in order from strongest to weakest.  Writing things down makes you remember them and keeping a list makes you more organized.  You can always refer to this, especially as you gain more experience and accumulate more interests throughout your life.

3.  Draw a line between the skills and passions that closely align. By viewing both your passion and expertise on a single piece of paper and drawing a line connecting them, you will have a better sense of your (possible) future.  Draw as many lines as possible because options can never hurt you.  You can also interweave the lines to connect more skills to a specific passion you have, etc.

4.  Do some internet market research to see what niche might be available for you to claim.  Based on the keywords representing your passion and expertise, you should conduct a variety of Google searches.  See how many results for each keyword you get, what the competition is and how you can position yourself relative to both your passion and expertise in a niche area.

5.  Use 1-5 words to describe the connection between your passion and expertise and form a personal brand statement for positioning purposes.  Once you grasp the niche you want to claim, summarize it in one to five words maximum and use it as a personal brand statement, that expresses what your passion/expertise is and the audience you want to serve.