It seems that recently everyone has been talking about networking. When I attended NEL in February there was abig emphasis on networking and in the past few months I know a few people who have been very proactive about networking in order to find a job. Although I am not actively looking for a job, continuing to expand one’s network is always important.
I found that reading the book Work the Pond by Darcy Rezac was extremely useful. It is a quick read and there are tons of tips that help us to understand how to be more effective in our networking attempts. Rezac uses the analogy that we are all frogs and when it comes to networking you need to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. He takes the frog analogy much further (a bit too far at times) but the book remains extremely insightful in its description of networking misconceptions and how one can become a networking expert.
Another great analogy that I’ve seen that helps us better understand the act of networking is the article Breaking Away: Networking like a Cyclist, by Daniel Ransom on the library blog Letters to a Young Librarian. I am an avid cyclist and so I can really relate to these lessons about networking when compared to competitive cycling (a little shoutout to Ryder Hesjadel, the first Canadian to win the Giro d’Italia, Woohoo!).
People often do not realize that cycling is often played as a team sport and that there is a lot of strategy involved. I think that this blog post does a wonderful job of comparing the fine line between working together to move forward and the drive needed at the end of the race to leave the group behind and cross the finish line first. This strategy exists both in cycling and during a job hunt.
One thing that both Rezac and Ransom touch on that I completely agree with is that networking does not have to mean focusing your energy on talking only to the “big wigs” who you consider to be the most influential. Networking is often about making contacts (friends) who might be at the same level as you so that you can support each other as you both work your way up. Sometimes will you end up competing against your friends for a much coveted position but life goes on.
I highly recommend both this book and this blog post to gain easy and effective networking tips.
Obtaining a MLIS can set a foundation of theoretical and practical knowledge that is valuable for succeeding in career as a librarian or information professional. However, one aspect of a MLIS degree that is not often discussed but that is invaluable is the creation of a network of friends in libraries/archives/knowledge management. I have just recently begun to reflect on how lucky I am to have studied for the past two years with such a wonderful group of people. Like most students, I had a choice of what universities I could attend for my degree. I could have easily taken the same program at l’Université de Montréal instead of at McGill. But I have a hard time imagining what my experience would have been with a completely different set of classmates. So many things create a strong bond between classmates: working on group projects, complaining about exams and assignments, discussing/poking fun at various professors.
Unfortunately this year I was so busy with school work, associations, and my part-time jobs that I did not socialize as much as I would have liked. For those who wanted, there were lots of opportunities outside of class to hang out with friends and classmates. An informal MLIS group called “Pub Club” even set times and places for people to meet together to enjoy Montreal’s exciting nightlife.
A few weeks ago on the Librarians Without Borders Guatemala Trip 2010 with fellow McGill students, I really appreciated what it was like to be part of a close-knit group of incredible individuals who all share a passion for libraries. Everyone displayed such a strong desire for the library project at Asturias Academy to be successful and we all worked very hard together to develop recommendations and library standards based on the school’s objectives and resources. In addition to the library project, we all bonded as a group while having somewhat crazy but fun experiences travelling around Guatemala. In the last few days of the trip someone mentioned how wonderful it would be if we could develop a form of telepathy amongst the group members. He mentioned that since most of us were going our separate ways after the trip, it would be great if when we encountered problems in our library careers we could simply close our eyes and contact someone telepathically to ask how they would handle a certain situation. Like many ongoing jokes that developed during the trip, we referred to this idea of group telepathy quite a bit. Despite our great plans for telepathy being unrealistic and likely be replaced by other means of communication (email/instant messaging/telephone), what I really love is the idea that due to this bond that I’ve developed with my McGill classmates I know we will continue supporting each other as we begin our careers and beyond.
The friendships that I have developed at McGill mean that I can now share the highs and lows of a career in libraries and seek advice from graduates who work in various positions from Montreal to California to South Africa. I also applaud two classmates who will shortly begin their PhDs at McGill; I completely admire their further pursuit of academia, who knows in a few years I might want to join them!
McGill’s MLIS Graduation is June 2nd and although some students have already left Montreal to pursue new jobs and projects elsewhere, I’m very excited at this chance to get together with so many of my classmates before we all go out into the real work world.