By Amanda Brasfield, Director of Communications
District Librarian, Findlay City Schools
The OELMA Conference is a great time to connect with other librarians and professionals in related fields. Here are some tips to help you make the most of networking at conference.
Think about what your professional goals and what you are hoping to get out of any new professional relationships. Are you looking for someone with a rockstar makerspace? Are you seeking to get more involved with OELMA? Searching for fellow YA book aficionados? Focusing on your needs will help you choose the right sessions and booths to visit. Share your goals and you may meet someone who can point you in the right direction, as well.
Go to all the things! Attend sessions related to your goals so that you will be in the audience with others who are curious about the same things you are. Connections can also be made in the lobby and corridors, so get out there, eyes up, phone stowed. Keynotes and large events can really mix up the crowd, so introduce yourself to the people in your area and find out what brought them there. You never know who you will run into!
Ready your introduction. Be sure you tell people you meet your full name and where you’re from, and/or your position. Someone may not remember Brasfield, but they may remember the librarian from Findlay, which is enough to find me with Google. Wearing your badge is a great way to give people a visual of your name.
Utilize the conference hashtag, #OELMA22, before, during, and after the conference.
Before: Share what you’re looking forward to, session you want to see, or specific people you are hoping to learn from. Don’t forget to tag those you mention!
During: Share what you learn in sessions, tag new people you meet, share photos you took. This creates a shared record of conference, and it can also serve as notes for your own reference.
After: Tag and thank your administrator or district for letting you come to conference. Follow up with folks you planned to stay in touch with. Use the hashtag to share photos when you implement something you learned at conference.
5. Bring business cards or a QR code
Folks can scan to connect with you on social media. Be sure to jot down a note on the back of any cards you collect to document what you talked about or if you connected digitally, be sure to follow back! You can also write directly on handouts or utilize a doc or Google Keep note. Be ready to give and receive information.
6. Not everything is going to be a match. Conference is an active and dynamic space, but not every connection you make is going to be fruitful. Cast a wide net. Also, some folks may not want to connect at the moment you encounter them, and that’s ok too. You can move along to someone who is ready to talk shop at that moment.
It’s ok to excuse yourself too! If a conversation isn’t manifesting into what you need or you are trying to catch someone else, just be polite. You can thank the person for their time and move along to your next connection.
7. Reciprocate. You are coming to conference with your own set of skills and interents. Remember that others may be seeking to learn from you, so think about what has gone well for you or where you shine and be ready to share. If you are completely new to the profession or still in school? Don’t undervalue your fresh perspective or the questions you raise.