If there is one thing I’ve learned since becoming an information professional it is that other information professionals are fountains of knowledge and wisdom. Going to events and meeting others who inevitably have advice or experience you can draw from will make you more knowledgeable about the profession as a whole and can be invaluable at different points in your career when you have questions or need support.
Unfortunately when you are just out of college or that contract you were on has come to an end it can seem like networking is completely unaffordable; however, don’t be disheartened – there are plenty of ways to engage with your peers and keep up to date by spending little or nothing at all.
Firstly, make the most of social media. Twitter is an excellent resource for information professionals. Some of my network I have never met face-to-face but nonetheless they have offered advice and support when I’ve needed it. Get involved in things like twitter chats to build your contacts and look out for lists of information professionals so you know who to follow. There are also plenty of librarian groups on the likes of Facebook and Linkedin also.
Attend free networking events – A&SL and HSLG have a joint networking event every winter (usually January) and it is always a great night with plenty of opportunity to mingle and chat. If you aren’t from Dublin look out for regional events such as events run by the Western Regional Section of the LAI.
Attend conferences virtually – this year I couldn’t make it to A&SL but thankfully the conference was streamed live, allowing me to participate without costing a cent. And if you’re social media savvy there isn’t even a need to miss out on the networking aspect. Twitter can be a conversation – follow the hashtag for the day and get involved by asking questions and replying to comments.
Apply for bursaries!!!! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from this.
Finally, there are some events that are specifically targeted to those who haven’t got a budget for networking and CPD but can really benefit from it. NPDIreland run free events aimed directly at new professionals. And LibraryCamp is an annual event run by the CDG and A&SL, there is a nominal charge and everyone brings cake! So for a very small amount of money you get to spend the day listening to, and chatting with, lots of your peers and you get cake into the bargain – what’s not to love!
So there is no excuse – go forth and network!
by Sarah Kennedy, Collections Review Assistant, The Royal College of Surgeons of England