New ideas are like lightning bolts. They strike quickly, rouse the status quo and inspire new ways of doing things. History’s innovators fascinate me. They saw untapped markets and pursued their passions: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Milton Hershey. Their names became their brand.

In my post last week, I stated: “What doesn’t change about recruiting is that it’s all about the engagement of people” and that, “We’re still in the Wild West of social media.” I also wrote about the “power of brand building” and that the “$64,000 question” for social media is “winning new client business.”

In 18 years in recruiting, I’ve found that two overriding factors win new client business: (1) Saying the right things to the right people at the right times and (2) Connecting with people on a personal level.

This is what’s so exciting about social media, in my view. We have the ability to create our own networked world and connect with like people in areas we’re interested in and passionate about.

The key ingredient to winning new business is passion. Passion is defined in wikipedia as “a strong feeling about a subject…usually of intense desire and attraction.” How strongly you pursue something over time shows your true interest. Like in recruiting, your passion comes through in your voice and how you engage on the phone.

Here’s my premise for recruiting, staffing and HR professionals: Through social media, we can build communities around our “2nd Life Passions.” When we’re engaged, we engage others.

Your 2nd Life Passion: What do you love to do when you’re not recruiting? If you were to start a blog or site outside of work, what would it be about? Yours could be a hobby, a sport, food, religion, politics, art, travel, cars, collecting, etc.

In sharing our passions, we gain friends and followers. New relationships develop and grow. These could become business contacts and develop into new client relationships. It’s similar to joining a club, chamber of commerce or doing business on the golf course. The difference is you are the social media leader of your passion. You become memorable because of it.

I asked HR and recruiting professionals about their 2nd life passions:
1) What’s your passion outside of work?
2) Where did it come from?
3) How do you exercise/express it?
4) Do you integrate it with recruiting? If so, how?

Michael Homula: WINE. Twitter: @MichaelHomula
– Mike started enjoying wine in college, because he loved it. “Creates conversation, shared experiences.” He says, “I’m doing it because I love it.”
– His recruiting site is: www.bearingfruitconsulting.com. He recently launched his wine site: www.pullingthecork.com.
– Mike says he could offer social media advice to winemakers and/or wineries could become his recruiting clients.

Jeff Lipschultz: BIKING. Twitter: @jlipschultz
– Jeff was an avid biker in college. Today he does it for exercise and health benefits. He’s led bike groups and rides in Colorado and Northern Italy. He’s passionate about teaching beginners to ride.
– Jeff’s recruiting site is: www.alistsolutions.com. His blog is: http://jefflipschultz.wordpress.com. His post “Ten Reasons to Take up Biking During a Job Search” is his #1 SEO.
– Jeff’s alter ego on Twitter is @Bike_Whisperer. “Teaching the world to ride a bike one kid at at time.” In business, he tells bike stories as “icebreakers” and believes in its “networking effect.”

Karla Porter: BAKING. Twitter: @Karla_Porter
– Karla has been baking since childhood with her mom and grandmother. She “invites people over to bake.” She spent 10 years in Mexico and owned a gormet coffee shop and made pastries.
– Karla’s website is: www.karlaporter.com. Colleague @BillBoorman wrote a guest blog on her site “The Art of Baking.”
– Karla says “recruiting is based on metrics” and she likes the “creative outlet” baking provides her. She meets people at “fundraisers” and “volunteer” work and talks about baking. “Her home is always open” to people who bake with her.

Jennifer McClure: HORSES. Twitter: @CincyRecruiter
– Jennifer’s love of horses came from her grandfather. She grew up on a farm in Tennessee with 22 horses. In 2002 she “reignited” her passion, bought her horse “Sarabi” and takes riding lessons twice a week.
– Jennifer’s blog is: www.cincyrecruiter.com/. She has pictures of her horse in her office and on her Twitter background and Facebook page www.facebook.com/jennifer.mcclure. She’ll be adding to her LinkedIn profile.
– Jennifer says her love of horses creates conversation and “makes me more well-rounded when I interact.” New business relationships have formed because of a mutual love for horses.

Craig Fisher aka @fishdogs on Twitter whose blog is http://blog.fishdogs.com/ says passions give us a “euphoric feeling” and “make your spine tingle.” They also “regulate stress.” What’s Craig’s passion – that’s not on his resume? He is a “voracious” mystery book reader, which came from his mother and grandmother. Many passions originate in childhood.

What 2nd life passions have in common is their global appeal to a wide audience, often across cultures and geographies. I’d venture to say that if two new sites were launched; one recruiting and one a 2nd life passion, the passion site traffic would accelerate at 5X to 10X+ the rate of the recruiting one. This can be a powerful vehicle to gain a following and create new relationships, both personal and business.

The larger question is branding – and becoming memorable. Ford = cars. Edison = light bulb. Disney = entertainment. Hershey = chocolate. Can a 2nd life passion be successfully married with recruiting? Social media enables us to do it now. The Wine Recruiter. The Bike Recruiter. The Baking Recruiter. The Horse Recruiter. If you can do it for your passion, new business will most certainly flow your way.