So I value and appreciate my professional networks and organisations. Hopefully, I'm also a good example as an active member of my current networks. Networks are great, but they will only become really rewarding, challenging and developmental when you choose to take an active part in them. Don't just sit there, and expect to be a spoon-fed sponge, soaking up the professional wisdom as if by passive diffusion. Get out there, contribute, participate, organise, debate, discuss, visit, praise, question, support and constructively shake-up these networks. In being actively involved you will develop:
- a wider network of professional friends and colleagues,
- your interactions with them will be more numerous, more purposeful, and more helpful / supportive
- opportunities to open yourself up to a wider range of challenges and professional learning experiences.
I continue to reap the networking benefits. My recent involvement in CILIP's Career Development Group Wales Divisional Committee provides me with new opportunities to meet fascinating, enthusiastic, talented and resourceful professionals at all stages of their careers. In Wales, I believe that we are very fortunate, because the Welsh Library world is a comparatively small, but welcoming group. We have strong foundations - an excellent CILIP Branch, a great national annual conference, some really active Special Interest Groups and local networks, Aberystwyth "library school", the National Library, devolved heritage and culture policies. As CDG Wales Committee Secretary I hope that I can enable, encourage, support and cajole other colleagues to become professionally active, to develop and value their support networks.
Don't just sit there, do something! Take confidence from your virtual networks. Twitter, Facebook and other Online Communities can be great ice-breakers for when you do meet others face-to-face. You will have so much in common, so much to share, to give and to benefit from.
This is all very good but what could I do better in my networking? Some New Year thoughts:
- improve my networking within my own organisation. With 5000 staff, I should try to know a few more, understand their roles, needs and aspirations;
- become a more skilled networker. Work on my memory skills - I have a terrible memory for names, and that really doesn't help networking! Perhaps take cards with me to conferences / events / giving my Twitter / blog and email details. Look at delegate lists and try to talk with as many people as possible. Use social media to add to events that I attend, or attend events remotely via Twitter feeds etc, for those events that I can't get to.
Do you have any further suggestions for me?