January 2022 NMRT Online Discussion Summary

by Doreen Dixon

We are all aware that networking is vital to our professional growth. It facilitates the development and improvement of our skills, allows us to connect with others who can provide us with more professional opportunities, increases professional recognition and provides us with improved self confidence. The thought of networking is daunting for some, while for others, the process occurs more naturally. Whether virtual or in-person networking still remains important. For those who are just entering the workforce, or changing careers, the additional layer of doing so during a pandemic has made this process even more challenging. Now more than ever many of us are eager to learn how to network and be successful at it.

What does networking look like for you? How do you network? Do you find it difficult or do you find it easy to do? What are you looking to achieve by networking? Do you have any networking tips? These were the questions asked to kickstart a new round of discussions for 2022. The January NMRT online discussion (via ALA Connect) on Networking provided insights into how we should approach the process. Participants delved into what it means to “network”, listed opportunities through which it can be accomplished, and freely shared networking tips.

Changing the Approach

Regardless if you are an introvert or an extravert, successful networking is possible for all personality types. Some participants mentioned that networking can become less arduous and the process more natural when the focus shifts to genuinely connecting with others and wanting to get to know them. They voiced that doing so can help to make the interaction feel less transactional and in the process foster a more natural flow to conversations.

Network Opportunities

Several opportunities were mentioned during the online discussion. These included:

  • Posting questions directly to online groups.
  • Participating on a committee, roundtable, or a board.
  • Participating in mentorship programs.
  • Attending professional conferences, meetings, happy hours and other events (virtually or in-person).

Besides networking professionally on a state, regional or national level, it was also mentioned that one could also network locally. This local networking was referred to as networking within the local library system/cohort and community.

Professional Growth

Although successful networking is not reliant on a specific personality type or network preference (virtual or in-person), when it comes to networking, one should ultimately find what works best for them. By reframing your idea of networking, shifting your focus, looking for the right people and being proactive you can propel yourself to another level in your professional development and simultaneously, possibly form genuine and long-lasting friendships along the way. An important fact to remember is that people in the LIS field are kind, welcoming and always willing to share information. Don’t shy away from connecting!

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