Things 6 and 7 seem similar enough that I can fit them into one post, which I’m grateful for as I’ve let myself slip behind. Both are about exploring the value of networking, either virtually or in real life. This ties nicely into Thing 2, which encouraged us to go out and meet our neighbors (surely the first step of networking) and loosely into Thing 4, which suggested the value of Twitter (conversation is another important part of networking, and Twitter certainly encourages that). Thing 6 & Thing 7 are ostensibly split into virtual and in-person networks/networking, though there’s some overlap. While that means dividing a blog post into neat little sections is more difficult, I think some overlap shows the potential that networking really has. Of course, I say this (and write this post) from the perspective of a newcomer to the process. Networking is a good excuse to lurk less. 🙂
Thing 6: Virtual networks
As I prefer to live life offline, I don’t participate in many of these at the moment. I did enjoy looking at them, though, and am thinking of joining some.
Facebook is the ubiquitous social network, but I only use it on a personal basis. I don’t see family or friends from home often, and it is really the easiest way to keep up with the major events in their life and, more importantly, see photos of them. I can’t imagine using Facebook for professional purposes, though I am a member of my department’s Facebook group.
LinkedIn is the big name in professional online networks and comes highly recommended by a lot of people. It is fairly easy to use, but it’s too easy for me to forget about. Apparently I joined a couple of years ago? Hmm. I didn’t remember until last week, when I submitted a job application and got an email saying someone had viewed my profile. As I obviously hadn’t updated my profile, I panicked and deleted my account. Better not to be there at all than have inaccurate/outdated information. When I have more time to make sure it stays updated, I may join again, especially as it does seem to be used in different ways by so many people.
As for the others: As a new professional myself, I do think I’ll join LISNPN. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who has skills to offer but still feels a little lost in the remarkably big library world at times. The site design is friendly and easy to navigate, and it feels like a particularly supportive network. I often feel uncomfortable giving any kind of advice, feeling less experienced than a lot of people, but I can imagine getting involved here. While I don’t think I will join LAT unless I get a position that involves teaching (which I’d love, actually!), it does link to some good resources. It also seems to be associated with TeachMeets. I attended one in Oxford recently and would be happy to see a network support them. Although I am a CILIP member (student rates, woop!), I am sorry to say that I don’t participate in CILIP Communities. As I mentioned, I prefer to live offline and can see myself getting too wrapped up in this. Lots of people can balance online and offline personal development, but I have a feeling I would get distracted from the important things.
Thing 7: In person networks/networking
There is a lot of discussion about the merits of professional networks (See the comment thread in Helen Murphy’s entry for examples of how passionate people are in one direction or the other). I joined CILIP because student membership is very cheap and it gave me access to career development tools which, being unfortunately unemployed, I had a hard time finding. Before I graduate, I think I will also join SLA Europe. For me, the greatest benefit of either of these right now is that they are an easy way for me to show on my CV that I am dedicated to career development. I hope to get volunteering and conference experience as well, but it is nice to be able to write CILIP member and know that it will be recognized. I also know that the area I would like to work in, the West Midlands or Southwest, have active chapters. It’s good to know I would have an opportunity to get involved early in my career, and to have a support network. Plus, I really like that being a member of CILIP makes me a member of IFLA; I am very interested in international librarianship. However, as much as I really appreciate that both of these organizations offer steep discounts for students, my continuing membership will probably depend upon my job status.
Networking is quite new to me. My first experience with it was at the New Professionals Information Day, which I would recommend to anyone. All the speakers got me excited all over again about becoming a librarian. I went with a group of friends from library school, but tried to sit next to people I didn’t know during the sessions so I could meet new people. Unfortunately I can be quite reticent at times and only managed to meet a few new people. I went to the pub and chatted to more people, but still left thinking I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity as much as I could have. That was one of the reasons I chose to participate in CPD23, really. I had a friend visiting on the day of the Oxford meetup, but luckily she was also a librarian so we both went along. The pub was like the TARDIS (I’ve never seen such a sprawling pub!), so finding each other was difficult at first, but it was lovely once we got started. Being able to chat about the strengths and weaknesses of the programme in person was great, and it was interesting to hear about everyone’s work. Though TeachMeets may not strictly count as networking, I have been to one of those as well. It was excellent and I hope that I will be near one again. Shy as I am about public speaking, I might be brave enough to manage a short presentation at a TeachMeet.