You’ve registered for the symposium and you are excited about it. Three whole days of learning and discovering the issues that affect information professionals. But you’re also nervous, because you have never been to a symposium before. What to expect? Who will I meet?
It sounds overwhelming but it is vital to network when attending professional events such as the New Librarians’ Symposium. It’s a tough time in the job market. However networking opens the door to jobs and sectors you never knew existed. You can meet people who can become lifelong friends or even your future employer. The possibilities are endless, and with social media, it has never been easier to keep in contact with people.
Not convinced? Picture this – being in a room where everyone knows each other except you. The feeling of being the odd one out does not sit well. That is how I felt when I attended a professional development session. Fortunately, I received some wise words from a liaison librarian based in Saskatchewan, Canada who helped me overcome this situation. She advised me to become more involved in my profession and industry. She told me to NETWORK.
This is what I did:
- I opened up a Twitter account and started following random people in my industry.
- I created a Linkedin profile and joined some of the Information and Knowledge Management groups such as CILIP and IFLA.
- Created a business card highlighting my qualifications and my skills and handed these out to conference delegates and keynotes. Be confident – know who you are and what you can offer.
You have done all that and are at the symposium and you are surrounded by people you have never met before. Anxiety hits and thoughts such as these may rush through your head:
‘What happens if I don’t know anyone?’
‘Why would anyone want to listen to me?’
‘I’m not important.’
My advice is to take a deep breath, then approach people and introduce yourself. Sure it will be awkward, but it is better than missing the opportunity. If in the first few minutes of introducing yourself, the person does not say much, feel free to excuse yourself. It is not rude to walk away politely if the conversation is forced and the answers you receive are short.
And if you’re stuck, here are some icebreakers to think about:
- After introductions, ask them (if you are at the symposium) what sessions they will be attending
- Follow on with the question – what kind of services do your organisation offer?
- If they are wearing something interesting, comment on it. You just never know where it will take you.
So there you go. Just some networking strategies to think about. Maybe you have your own, why not share these with us! I’m really excited and can’t wait to meet you all at NLS6!