CPD23 Thing 15: Getting involved in events

Katie’s Thing 15 post

Attending

This is the part of professional eventing (that sounds a bit horsey!) that I am particularly good at; in fact my only involvement in events so far! Conferences and other similar events are a great way to find out what’s new in your sector, and to expose yourself to lots of different things at once (as opposed to, say, a training day, which is much more focused).

I’ve struggled in the past with getting funding from my employers to attend conferences (the only AUKML conference I was able to attend was the one in London, when I didn’t need to stay over). In the current financial climate that’s understandable (although perversely it’s a little easier to get funding now that there are fewer staff members). But you can pick up all sorts of new info even if you’re just attending the free exhibition side of things (for example at Online, which hosts some very good free seminars).

Every time I attend an event I gain a little more confidence in talking to people I’ve not met before. Part of it is having more confidence in myself, and part of it is recognising people from Twitter!

Whereas a few years ago I would have loitered by the tea and biscuits or hung out with my colleagues at a conference, now I’ll approach exhibitors and start conversations at snack time. In the past year I’ve even, shock horror, attended a couple of things (like the CILIP Umbrella conference and LIKE events) on my own. I know, I’m so brave!

Speaking

I’m hoping this new-found confidence is going to help me get over my next big hurdle: speaking at an event. I’ve always hated public speaking, I avoided most presentations at uni and the thought of addressing a room full of knowledgeable delegates at a conference fills me with dread. So I’m going to start slowly, by talking about my working day at a Graduate Open Day for trainee info pros later in the month.

I attended the open day when I was a trainee many moons ago, and I’m hoping they’ll be nice! I just pray nobody livetweets my nervous pen clicking and fierce blushing.

Organising

In a strange way, helping to organise an event seems less terrifying to me than speaking at one! With two small kids and Chartership underway, now is not the time to add events organiser to my CV, but certainly I’d consider getting involved in future.

CPD23 Thing 12: Where did the time go?!

I’ve been horribly lax and somehow I’ve got far far behind with CPD23. Back on track now though, I’m not sure if I’ll manage to finish on time but hopefully not too far behind everyone else!

So, Thing 12: Putting the social into social media

I’ve said elsewhere that I’m lucky in that the media sector, and the Guardian in particular, is very active online and encourages the use of social media for work. I’ve been tweeting from our work account @guardianlibrary and blogging for the Datablog and From the archive for a couple of years. Engaging with readers who comment ‘below the line’ is part of writing on the web – starting a conversation, in the latest jargon - even if the comments aren’t always favourable!

I’ve only recently started using social media for professional purposes outside work, partly because of CPD23 but also because I’m chartering. My main source is Twitter, although I’ve been trying to get involved by commenting on other CPD23 blogs too.

I can’t count the number of contacts I’ve made through Twitter who I wouldn’t have encountered in everyday professional life (well I probably could but it would be a bit tedious and, well, you get my point). I’ve started attending conferences and events in the real world too, but the best contacts I’ve made there have been with people I had already encountered online. Even if you first meet someone face to face, social media offer an easy way of keeping in touch.

I don’t think social media can entirely replace face-to-face networking – for me, anyway, there’s something more tangible in actually meeting someone.

The social media world moves at an ever faster pace, too – a break of a few hours from Twitter and you can completely miss a new revelation; take a break of a few weeks (did I mention I slacked off over the summer?) and it’s a daunting task to catch up again. It might be easier to make contacts online but I think it’s harder to maintain your place in that network than in a ‘real world’ one.

There’s also a risk that you don’t break out of the echo chamber of the library world if you keep your online contacts within your professional sphere. We all know libraries are worth saving, for example, but there’s no use just preaching to the converted! But if what you’re after is a community, rather than getting a message to a wider audience, social media can be very useful.

One of the main reasons I started CPD23 was to expand my network of fellow professionals, as my physical network has been shrinking of late. When jobs are being shed and budgets cut, social media offers a nice alternative to brainstorming on your own!

CPD23 Thing 7: Face-to-face networks

Bethan’s Thing 7 blogpost

In terms of career development, this is the area I think I need to work on most. I’ve never been good at approaching people I don’t know – I’d be the one loitering by the tea/biscuits/wine waiting for someone to take pity on me. But I decided when I started Chartership last year – really when I started to take my career seriously – that I needed to expand my professional network, and improve my networking skills in the process.

Most of my professional networking is done online, but face-to-face offers something lacking in online contact – a chance to engage in natural conversation, to talk without other distractions. I feel like I know someone better once I’ve met them in person.

There isn’t a lot of career progression available in my role – we’re such a small department that there isn’t a ‘ladder’ as such – so I need to look outside for ways of furthering my career.

So which professional organisations have I been involved with so far?

AUKML

When I joined the Guardian as a researcher nine years ago the department was heavily involved in AUKML (the Association of UK Media Librarians), and automatically paid membership. I attended social events, AGMs and the conference in London (funding wasn’t available to send me to the residential conferences elsewhere). I also wrote for the quarterly newsletter Deadline.

Unfortunately the sector has shrunk over the past decade, and the decision was made to fold a couple of years ago. Another reason to expand my professional horizons.

CILIP

I’ve been a member for just over a year, and I’m working towards Chartership. A couple of weeks ago I attended the Umbrella conference in Hatfield (which I will blog about when I find my notes!). I’ve written a couple of articles for CILIP Update too, and I’d like to write more.

I went along to Cilip in London‘s tie-in event for Thing 7, and as well as enjoying the free wine I made some really good connections – people I follow online but hadn’t met, people I knew but hadn’t touched base with in a while, and some people I’d never met before. My online community has expanded as a result, meaning the connections I made will continue.

The talks and discussions were interesting (and not just the ones about wedding dresses!) – more to write up when I find that notebook! I would definitely consider getting involved in a committee, but I don’t think now is the time for me. I’m already juggling babies and work, and I know being a committee member would benefit my Chartership but I’m not sure I would find time to write my portfolio if I got involved! I barley have time to keep up with CPD23 – did I mention this post was late?

SLA Europe

I’m not a member, yet, but I’ve been to several SLA events (and we’re the reigning champions of the Winter Warmer quiz). I’m considering joining now that my company pays for professional membership of CILIP.

LIKE

I went to my first LIKE event last week, a guided walk which was purely social – I skipped the tour of the Guardian! – but still afforded a chance to chat to other professionals. I might get a bit more involved with the next event.

To do:

  • Join SLA Europe?
  • Follow up on contacts I made at Cilip in London event
  • Get involved with LIKE?
  • Chase up suggestion for Update article

Networking: LIKE guided walk

Statue of John Betjeman at St Pancras Station

John Betjeman

Last Thursday I went to my first LIKE event, a guided walk of King’s Cross which took in the Midland Grand Hotel, St Pancras and King’s Cross stations, the German Gymnasium and St Pancras Old Churchyard.

King’s Cross has always been my gateway to the city and I’ve explored parts of it – what a shame we didn’t see the Hardy tree in the churchyard up close – but it was great to take the time to stop and look around, and learn a bit more about the area. I’d never adventured upstairs in St Pancras station to see the sculptures, or noticed the Stanley Building tenements next to the Gymnasium.

Dinner at Canal 125 after was delish, I met some lovely people and I may have agreed to help out at the next event (I blame the wine…).

CPD23 Thing 7: CILIP in London event

My first CILIP in London event, to tie in with Thing 7 of CPD23 (real world networks), was a great success.

The discussion part of the evening was really useful in introducing me to some of the work that committee members do in CILIP, and the discussion format introduced me to a few new faces (as well as letting me chat with some old ones!).

The social side afterwards (as well as giving me a stinking hangover) meant I got to meet some great fellow professionals in what is an increasingly isolated profession. Plus free wine (did I mention the hangover?).

Notes:

Francis – CILIP

  • Hard to get committee members at outposts, looking at merging some branches – pilots going on
  • Reassessing the CILIP input agreement – some groups may continue without CILIP input
  • New model rolls out in 2012

Committee involvement helps PPD:

  • managing and planning experience
  • managing budgets
  • leadership
  • publicity
  • networks
  • advocacy
  • plug the gap if there’s no opportunity at work

Franko – Career Development Group

  • chair, secretary, treasurer – hard posts to fill, lots of work
  • events organiser – visits, workshops, socials
  • candidate support officer – came to it through qualifications – workshops, speaking
  • mentor for chartership
  • New Professionals conference
  • About getting people involved, engaged to help

Helen, HLG – CPD panel chair

  • needed to enhance CV, found CPD panel interesting – study days, workshops, conferences

Benefits:

  • increased knowledge of sector
  • increased respect for collaboration
  • network stretches across the country
  • more confidence in tackling new tasks
  • apply skills to job
  • good for CV, promotion
  • share good practice, increase your network

Increases the workload on top of your job but it’s worth it.

Neil – SLA Europe

CILIP was useful in the early days, then SLA filled the gap – more personal benefit – it’s important to look at your own needs and decide which organisation to join.

Contacts through the network helped to get new job!

Reflections:

I need to look into which CILIP groups I’m a member of, and consider getting involved (although I think I want to focus on Chartership at the moment). I need to join SLA Europe, too, to widen my network.