Creating connections is important in establishing a resilient career. This can, however, present a bit of a challenge if you’re an awkward, anxious and shy introvert like me. However, in my four years in the library and information profession I’ve learned it’s possible to create connections in a way that’s natural and authentic to my nature as an introvert, and that are based on my ability to connect with others in genuine way, as well as the way I present myself and my work.
Join groups that align with your passions and goals.
A few years ago, I joined the Australian and Library Association New Graduates Group (ALIA SNGG) as Social Media Coordinator, and this has been an amazing opportunity to create connections and contribute to the sector. Volunteering for ALIA SNGG has never felt like a networking chore, simply because I was surrounded by passionate, dedicated, inspiring new information professions. Working in the social media realm also allows me to be more connected to the happenings of the industry, which has been great for my personal and professional development. If you’re considering joining an interest group, I highly recommend it! Finding a tribe can be one of the greatest, most rewarding connections.
Take advantage of social media.
Alissa McCulloch wrote a great post on Twitter as the Introvert’s Megaphone, and I wholeheartedly agree. Although social media is not for everyone, it’s a great way to create connections, especially if you’re a shy awkward introvert like me. I started using Twitter as an information tool, following tags like #critlib and #librarylife to upskill myself in things I needed to know as a new librarian. However, beyond the information, what I found more valuable were the connections I made online. To quote Alissa:
“I want to be clear: most of Twitter is an absolute binfire. It’s abhorrent. It’s a cesspool. It’s home to some of the worst people on the entire internet. But library twitter is different. It’s full of people who are passionate about libraries, having the best and most urgent conversations, sharing the most important ideas, making the most fruitful connections.”
This has rung true for me. If you’ve tentative about engaging online, I encourage you try join the next #AusLibChat, where a group of passionate library folk meet online monthly to chat about a chosen topic.
Leverage your strengths.
When other library folk meet me or engage with me, they often tell me they feel connected to my work, most particularly my writing or my speeches. This leads me to believe that leveraging your strengths is a great way to create connections with others in the industry, even if you don’t realise you are making those connections. Every time you’re brave enough to share something you’ve created with the world, a connection is always made.
Develop a compassionate connection mindset.
I became a librarian because I love people (even though I’m an introvert). Networking in its least-awkward form is simply about reaching out and connecting from a genuine place of sharing and showing a genuine interest in another person and their lives. This is why, despite my introverted nature, I’ve never felt networking that difficult, as I really care about getting to know people at a deeper level. In fact, I don’t even like the word networking, I see it just a mindset that likes to connect with others and connect with awesome ideas.