Networking Like a Pro at the SLA Expo

By Elizabeth Willse

We’re counting down the days until the SLA NY Conference and Expo.

Throughout the panels and exhibits scheduled for the day, there will be plenty of opportunities for networking. No matter where you are in your career, whether you need a library job, or are attending the Expo for insights to use in your current position, we hope you’ll take full advantage of the opportunity to network. To that end, here are a few useful tips and tricks that have worked for me:

Order extra business cards now, to give them plenty of time to arrive. I don’t know what it is about conferences, but it seems inevitable that you run out of cards before the end of them, even when starting with a giant stack. the Expo is a one-day event, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Bring extra pens. While the other conference organizers and I will make sure we have plenty on hand, this is always a good plan.

Write on the back of every business card you receive. A little note of what you talked about or a reminder of something to follow up when you send an e-mail later can make all the difference when you’re tackling your stack of cards at the end of the day.

Plan ahead of time where you’re going to put any business cards you receive. A spare card-holder? Paper clip? A dedicated pocket in your bag? Again, this will help with following up.

Torn between two events at the same time? Use it as a chance to network with someone new. If you’re intrigued by the panels on Project Management and Twitter for Information Professionals, offer to trade notes with a fellow conference attendee afterwards. I find that taking notes I know I’m going to share leads to better, more detailed notes.

Network to find mentors, or to be one. Networking often comes to mind as part of a job search strategy, whether you’re actively job hunting or looking to transition. As someone new to the field, I find it’s a lot easier to approach networking with the idea of seeking out mentors and advice on things such as recommended reading, avenues to explore, or things more seasoned professionals wish they had known when they were starting out. Once I’m more established in the field, I’ll be able to pay it forward.

Don’t think of it as “Networking.”  You’re meeting someone new, starting a conversation about a topic that interests you both. Maybe you’re planning to follow up and exchange more information later, or put one another in touch with someone else who can do the same. If the idea of networking feels contrived or stressful, think of it this way: it’s about sharing information, the familiar ground at the core of our profession.

Schedule some downtime after the conference. Whether you’re attending for half a day or the entire event, give yourself time to regroup and catch up to yourself before you begin reaching out to all the people you met at the conference. We’re bringing together a lot of people and a lot of information, so catching up with yourself is key.

There’s still time to register for the conferencewhich will take place on September 18th, at Baruch’s Vertical Campus. For news and updates leading up to the day, and on the day itself, follow @SLANewYork and #SLANY.

Hope to see you there!


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  1. Pingback: Twitter Networking Tips | Bridge to Excellence

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