If you are passionate about beaches, playing soccer, rescuing dogs or knitting, your interests could be the magnet that attracts a connector or an employer.
Then show how your hobby makes you better professionally or relates to your job, and you're really using your passions to advance your career. When career coach Chandlee Bryan talks about being "a passionate knitter" she attaches it to her keen interest in helping people find work: Both involve being creative, following directions, paying attention to detail and creating something functional.
"How you approach your passion or hobby reveals your personality. Employers are interested in that," said Bryan, a former recruiter and author of “The Twitter Job Search Guide.”
Start by becoming clear about what your passions and core talents are. Ask yourself: What comes easiest? What are your passions? What do you do even without pay or prompting? Then get pragmatic about matching your passions to employers needs, and sharing them in job hunt and interviews.
Many employers will hire based on an individual's motivation and attitude. So go ahead and gush enthusiastically about the potential job or your career path or personal development opportunities.
Adding your passions to your Twitter profile can increase connections, Bryan said. So include something beyond your work interests. You're an avid cyclist. Love salsa dancing. Make mango cocktails. Volunteer in homeless shelters. "It makes you more real to mention it," she said. "The right hobby - it can absolutely lead to conversation" on Twitter or elsewhere.
People often form communities around interests - or feel more connected to people who also love romance novels or deep sea fishing. So use social networking to identify some individuals with similar passions and career experiences, Bryan suggests. You could find someone on a MeetUp, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Sometimes those interest groups will yield potent connections that could advance your career or spark ideas for business opportunities. Use your passions to open doors to a job or career path. Bryan tells of a client who worked as a paralegal for years and yet was passionate about scrap-booking. She started researching the major scrap book companies and used her expertise to land a job at one.
During the interview, though everything you share must build your standing as "right for the position," Bryan said. Even if you're a sports-loving lawyer working for a major league team, your talents with the law must stand out and sell you.
"Find an appropriate way to share those interests in such a way that attracts, or distracts or is a turnoff to the employer, that is often an art," she said. "I think every interview question is like a gymnastics exercise in the Olympics. You have to do the element - and stick the landing."
This means sharing your passions and hobbies in the most positive light - so that it adds more skills or knowledge or increases your value. If you love to travel internationally, that indicates you're comfortable being out of your comfort zone or have picked up two languages. If you work with a group that rescues abandoned animals on weekends, you show you are organized, empathetic and can make connections.
Or if you love knitting or writing, as Bryan does, show how the skills that grow from those are valuable to your employer or clients. Long after Valentine's Day is over and the chocolates eaten, if you show how your passions could pump up possibilities or revenue for your employer, you're platinum.