Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Networking 101

I used to hate networking. I’m very much an introvert and even though I’ve worked on it and have gotten to know my introversion better I still sometimes struggle too. However, networking has allowed me to not be as intimidated as I once was by what I felt were “fancy people in the field”. Furthermore, it has landed me grants, scholarships, job interviews, and most importantly colleagues from around the world. I go to a lot of conferences and I do quite a lot of online networking too mostly through email lists, Facebook support groups, and just reaching out to people I would like to be in contact with. Sometimes I even cold email people! As a result I know my fair share of people in the field. OnceI forgot about someone I had connected with and they walked up to me excited to “finally meet the music librarian from Simmons”. I’m sure my face was worth a million! 

Because of this, I constantly get asked on how I do it and how I’ve put myself out there. Well you’re in luck! In this blog post, I’ll give you all my tips and tricks on how to network effectively including my tried and proven formula on how to email people you look up to in the field.

First of all, let me say that networking in this field is weird because so many of us are introverts. However, I’ve realized that in general, librarians are a friendly bunch! One of the first things to keep in mind about networking, is that you’ll have to do quite a bit of small talk and this is definitely something that gets better with practice. So charge your people points, get a good night’s sleep, and dive head first into it! Don’t worry and remember that many of these people have been in our shoes so they know exactly how you feel and will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. I’ve yet to meet a librarian who completely dismissed me when I approached them, even when I blurted out something that embarrassed them in front of their colleagues that one time! If all else fails, I always employ one of my mantras: “you just gotta fake it till you make it”!

Tips and tricks (aka what you came here for):

Ok, take a deep breath and roll up your sleeves. We’re going to get through this.

  • Listen to what other people are talking about, observe how they are conducting themselves, and mirror them.

  • Talk about your projects, classes, your experience, and your aspirations.

  • Ask questions. Ask them about their work, their day-to-day, their institution, etc.

  • Something I always employ when I’m out of a topic is to talk about bad New England weather can be! I’m telling you, it works every time.

  • Ask to keep in touch. Exchange business cards, emails, find common ground for when you’ll be able to meet again (I’ll see you at next year’s ____ conference, right?).

Remember when I said I cold email people sometimes? It’s true, my corporate job helped me to lose my fear of just reaching out to people. After all, what’s the worst they can do? Delete the email. To this day, I have always gotten a follow up email. So without any other preambles, here is my tried and proven formula for cold emailing people (including real examples I used). 

 1- Give them an idea of what the email will be about in the subject line.

  • ARL Leadership Symposium follow-up Question on OERs (Adaliz)

  • ARL Diversity Scholar taking you up on your offer to help

2- Depending on the person, greet them by their title or by first name.

  • Hi Dr. Quintero or Hi Hanni,

3- Provide some sort of pleasantry

  • I hope this email finds you well.

  • I hope this semester is going well so far.

4- Introduce yourself with your credentials

  • My name is Adaliz and I’m in the final semester of my MSLIS program at Simmons University.

  • By way of introduction, my name is Adaliz and I am a Library and Information Science student at Simmons University.

5- Establish a connection or where they’d know you from

  • We met briefly at the ARL Leadership Symposium

  • At the recommendation of a Boston University Ethnomusicology program professor, I found the book you edited on Reggaetón

6- Tell them what you’re currently doing and why you’re emailing them, compliments are valid.

  • I’m reaching out because I am currently working on an OER project and loved your presentation about it.

  • Will you attend the MLA Conference? Would love to chat if we’re both there at the same time.

  • As a techno musicologist, I think your work is very valuable to my project and would like to ask you a few questions if you are willing.

7- Ask them questions.

  • As a Scholarly Communications Librarian, what does your day-to-day look like?

  • As an expert in Colombian and Afro-Latin music, can you give me some suggestions as to where else I can find information on or loosely-related to this topic?

8- Thank them for their time, put some personality in it.

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to read me ramble and rant!

  • Thanks for reading me babble on and on!

9- Sign off 

  • Best, Adaliz

10- Have a killer and personalized email signature.

And that’s it my friends! Those are all my secrets. Now, go forth and create your network!