In the freshman experience class that I teach, one of my students recently balked at the idea of “networking” in order to find work or internship opportunities. He objected to the thought of people getting hired because of connections they had made rather than the merit of their work. The class then discussed the issue and concluded that connections could offer a person a foot in the door so that their merit could at least be considered. I was thrilled to watch them arrive at this point through their conversation rather than having to make it myself. I was even more thrilled when the original student who dislike the idea of networking recently submitted a reflection about an event he attended. The event focused on getting a job with any college major and the speaker zeroed in on the importance of networking. The student wrote that he now understood that there was not anything underhanded about this practice, rather a way to learn more about people in your field, what they do, and who else they might know who you might find of interest.
I think a lot of adults feel the same way when they hear the word “networking”. It helps when we think of this practice as a casual way to learn more about our field from those who are already working in it. In addition, we learn more about who they know and the research on which those people might be working. By having a conversation at a social event, we may have just found a new research collaborator or an interested party for an upcoming professional program. For those who are new to a field or changing careers, networking can be invaluable as they may not have a lot of experience to stand on but they can meet new people to show that they are eager and ready to learn more. It doesn’t have to be intimidating or feel sleazy. It is supposed to be fun and usually works best in a less formal, casual environment. And speaking of fun, there are several upcoming opportunities to meet your colleagues and possibly learn about new techniques for conducting research.
The ACRL MD fall program, “Stats Amazing!”, is scheduled for Friday, November 16th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Learn more about research methods and meet more library professionals! Space and time are running out for this event so go to this link http://bit.ly/statsamazing to find out more and register! An informal social event will take place after the day’s workshop.
The SLA Maryland Chapter is holding its Holiday Cheers celebration at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. This will take place on Wednesday, December 5th, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Register by November 26th and learn more about this event here: http://maryland.sla.org/2012holidayevent/
Also, be on the lookout for an upcoming ACRL MD co-sponsored happy hour in early December! Hope to see you all there!