The Value of Networking

Happy New Year! As we enter a new calendar year, some of you may be getting ready to make some major changes. Whether it be graduating, changing careers, or moving up the professional librarian ladder, you may wonder how you will be able to achieve some of the goals you set forth.

Sometimes the most basic advice can be the most daunting to enact (especially if you veer toward introversion). I’m here to stress the importance of knowing people. 

Oftentimes, across many different occupational disciplines, it isn’t what you know but who you know. You may have already witnessed this truth unfold – maybe someone got a promotion or a full-time position over you even though you know for a fact you are much more experienced, exude customer service excellence, or have been working there longer.

The best suggestion I can offer if you’ve experienced these injustices is step outside your comfort zone and really get out there – not in a pushy kind of way but in a way that you make a memorable and favorable impression.

And…Network, network, network! 

If you are in school, network with your professors. Show them your resume and make them aware of your unique skill set; it’s possible they may be able to match you with a position in the not-so-distant future. Bond with your classmates about your job-seeking struggles, interview experiences, professional meetings, etc. as this information could end up being very useful to you.

If you are out of school and working part-time while waiting to land a full-time position, seek out additional part-time positions in your area (the number of jobs you take will vary depending on hours each employer can offer). The more you “get your feet wet” and your face out there, the more people will know of you and be aware of your praise-worthy professional qualities. Who knows – maybe a full-time position will open up somewhere you work part-time.

In more formal measures, there are an array of methods to pursue networking within the library science field:

  • Attend professional workshops, conferences, and seminars. Depending on where you live, many sub-fields of librarianship require continuing education credits and professional development hours. Why not kill two birds with one stone? ALA offers many different professional meetings of sorts throughout the year in locations all over the United States. Interested in pursuing a library career abroad? IFLA  holds events all over the world, which makes it ideal for those hoping to form connections with organizations and individual libraries overseas.
  • Explore LinkedIn Librarian Groups. Ranging from Librarians in the Job Market, LIS Career Options, I Need A Library Job, Librarian Alternatives, to the American Library Association, these groups offer the unique opportunity to yield career guidance, seek counsel from seasoned professionals and newcomers, and explore different perspectives.
  • Delve into social media platforms with a professional angle. Some librarian groups you can find on Facebook include ALA Think Tank, Library Marketing & Outreach, Museums and Libraries, and region-specific groups such as Massachusetts Library Association Fans. On Twitter, you may want to follow a specific museum’s account (if you’re headed toward special libraries), a specific library’s account, or professional organizations. There are also accounts specifically for job-seeking librarians such as @ALA’s JobLIST, @Get LibraryJobs, and @ALAPlacement.
  • Find a mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of those who already have your dream job (they were once in your shoes, after all!).

Above all else, be confident, stay positive, and be bold. If the people you encounter can’t help you directly, they can often point you in the right direction.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and professionally-fulfilling 2017!