On the importance of networking and finding your peeps

I had intended to write about the linked open data presentation I attended last week but I realised I know so little about it I’m not sure I could write anything intelligent. I will say that the presentation was great, my vague knowledge of linked open data and its potential was not a limitation, and became a little less vague as the night wore on. I found myself swayed by Richard’s words (slides here). It went a little like this:

*nods* Yes, library users are using Google not library websites.

*nods again* Yes, there is a “library shaped black hole” in Google.

*vigorously nodding now* Yes, it would be great if library items turned up in Google search results

and

*jumps out of seat and fist pumps* YES! It would be great if those search results had a “borrow” or “hold” button!

Via

Ok, maybe I didn’t display my agreement quite as enthusiastically as that but I’ve found yet another area of the LIS industry that I find interesting and want to know more about.

However, because I don’t feel like I can add anything intelligent to that particular discussion I am going to write about the experience of attending instead.

Quite frankly the lead up was a little nerve-wracking. I knew when I registered for the event that in all likelihood I would not know a single person there. In general I have a hard time breaking the ice and introducing myself to strangers. This is exacerbated when those strangers are professionals in the field I would one day also like be a professional in. Probably because of that ever lurking shadow of *lowers voice* imposter syndrome. As a student I just don’t feel qualified to speak to these experienced professionals. Would they internally sigh and think “you know nothing Jon Snow”? The GLAM folk I have met so far are incredibly welcoming and friendly so I do not know why I continue to worry that I will provoke this kind of reaction!

As usual, there was no reason to worry. I had the pleasure of meeting some of the people I engage with on Twitter in real life. I didn’t even get nervous and monopolise the conversation (like I have a tendency to do) and if they were wishing I would stop talking to them they were gracious enough to hide that from me. I met two other DE students from another institution, and I realised that this is how the connections grow. Eventually my network will expand, each event I attend will add another person (or two or three…). I will feel more connected to, and part of the industry.

For me feeling connected to the industry started by engaging online. I’m not a huge social media user. I avoided at lot of it until partway into my BIS when I realised that I was incredibly, so incredibly, isolated from both my fellow students and the professionals working in the industry. Distance Ed can be very lonely, especially when not actively employed in the industry. So I started to actively seek connection online. I set up my Facebook policy*, started lurking around and following some of the many, many LIS professionals on Twitter and I tried to get virtual study groups going for each subject I was enrolled in. These online encounters have gradually built a sense of belonging.

But of course life cannot be fully lived online. Previously I found it difficult to attend events in person, however my personal circumstances have changed so that it is much easier for me to get to events at the moment. Recently I have attended the inaugural newCardigan event (the monthly #CardiParty’s will be super fun and I’m sad I can’t make it to tonight’s at the Melbourne Museum and Gertrude Street Projection Festival), the VALA linked open data presentation and the annual Let’s Talk event for DE students organised by Melbourne Library Service and CSU’s School of Information Studies. At each event I’ve met new people and Tweeps in real life (have I mentioned that Twitter has been valuable for finding and conversing with people in the industry?!). And so the network grows…

It was at last year’s Let’s Talk event that Kim Tairi provided some tips for DE study including the importance of finding your “peeps”.

Sketch note from Kim Tairi: Tips for online study
Sketch note courtesy of Kim Tairi. Available on Flickr under a BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

This was about the same time I started my foray into online connections and it has really stuck with me. I’ve found some peeps online and now I’m embarking on finding some in real life.

Look out Melbourne library-folk!

*Policy is very straightforward: strictly no friends. I’m a member of one study group – who are my absolute saving grace – and refuse to engage in any other way on that particular platform. I know I’m part of the minority. Meh.

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3 thoughts on “On the importance of networking and finding your peeps

  1. Great post 🙂

    For me, Twitter was the game changer for professional networking. I do okay in terms of socialising at events, but I’m not good at remembering names or faces of people I don’t see often. But if they’re on Twitter, I see them in my stream all the time and can maintain relationships between events – whether I met them first online or face to face. It’s made the world of difference!

    Like

    1. Thanks Sally, I think I can consider Twitter a game changer too! It’s the constant reinforcement of people’s names and interests that makes it easier when you meet them in real life too.

      Like

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