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Conference proposals 101: what, when, and how to submit yours

As you grow your LIS career, one of the most effective ways to build your professional reputation and visibility is to present at conferences.

You’ll have a chance to share your expertise with colleagues interesting in learning more about your topic, and create credibility for your professional knowledge.

If you’ve never gone through the proposal process, however, it can be a bit daunting at first. Rest assured, it’s actually a pretty simple process. (more…)

Learning about data librarianship

One of the questions with emerging LIS career opportunities is how to retool your traditional library skills to bridge into these cool new career paths.

If you’re interested in data librarianship, I’d suggest your first move be to read Amy Affelt’s excellent The Accidental Data Scientist (Information Today, 2015). Consider Affelt’s book to be “everything you wanted to know about data librarianship but never would have had a clue to ask.”

Learning More
After you’ve read the book, however, you may be so intrigued that you decide it’s time to make a serious move in the direction of data librarianship. If so, you have several choices for mastering the requisite skill set. One way would be to try to find ways to learn on the job, if your current work situation lends itself to this option – is there someone who would be willing to mentor you or share their knowledge, and perhaps give you an opportunity to try out your developing skills on a volunteer or training basis? (more…)

Invest/Maintain/Kill: Awful Way to Treat Employees, But Smart Way to Manage Your Career

Yesterday-Todoay-Tomorrow

I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer, and the spate of recent articles about her stealth layoff approach (here’s one) remind me of one of the things I like best about being an independent information professional (i.e., no one’s going to lay me off).

But as I read the articles, I was struck by what a terrific approach the Invest/Maintain/Kill mantra could be for your career. If you’re the type who regularly (okay, at least annually) does a career review, sorting out your priorities along these lines can help focus your efforts in ways most likely to keep you moving toward your goals. What might the invest/maintain/kill approach look like? (more…)

Forget Resolutions, Focus on Your Dreams

Little girl looking through binoculars

A new year.

A blank slate to write on, experiment with, screw up, laugh about, and grow with.

An open space within which to wander and dream.

Why waste it on resolutions that don’t reflect those dreams? Instead, why not shift your focus on where you’d like your LIS career to grow in 2016. What do your career dreams look like? This coming year is the perfect time to start moving toward their realization. (more…)

Modeling Your Message, or What to Do When You Keynote PPT Goes Nuts

Plan A failed, we need plan B

Recently I had the amazing honor of giving the wrap-up keynote at the 2015 SLA conference. The conference itself was a pretty intense several days, as SLA is currently undergoing some very difficult but important revisions to its structure, vision, core competencies, and identity. But conference discussions also provided a vibrant, real-life example of how we all need to be able to meet changing circumstances head-on, even if the choices we have aren’t the ones we’d hoped for.

My wrap-up keynote carried the same message. Titled “Improvising Your Career: How to Not Freak Out, Run for Cover, or Have to Move In With Your Folks (or Kids),” it focused on the necessity of having, to quote The Start-Up of You (Hoffman and Casnocha, 2012), a permanent beta mindset when it comes to your career. In other words, consider yourself always in start-up mode, and assume that your most important core competency is your ability to adapt. To improvise. To tap dance as fast as you can….

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The Broaden-and-Build Career

background

While doing research for a client recently I came across the Broaden-and-Build theory of positive emotions – basically, you’re building on your existing positive emotions to broaden your positive experience of the world, and then continuing to build out from there. It dawned on me that this is a terrific analogy for what most of us are ending up doing with our careers.

We start with a basic “platform” of LIS skills, then broaden and build out from there, usually either to create new opportunities or in response to new job responsibilities. The question is, in what direction does it make sense for us to broaden and build? If you commit to ongoing professional development, you want to make sure the new skills you’re mastering open up the opportunities that pique your interest.

A Broaden-and-Build Career
I spoke with an amazing information professional today, Michele Lucero, who is the Director of Client Development for LAC Group. Her career began with ten years of public library work. But between then and now, she’s worked

– in law librarianship (first legal research then management),
– for a vendor (client relationships, market development, training),
– as a Communications Director for another law library (public relations, social media, events planning, branding),
– as an adjunct professor for an MLIS program as well as for another university in a non-MLIS program (instructional design, teaching, mentoring), and
– as a local coordinator for a remotely-delivered MLIS program (outreach, communication, marketing, recruitment).

During this period Michele also completed an MBA to boost her business skills, a master’s degree in Dispute Resolution to enhance her ability to work with individuals and groups (including clients), and is currently completing her doctorate in Organizational Leadership. In addition, during her less than three years with LAC, Michele has progressed from Director of Business Development & Recruiting to Director of Business Development & Client Services to Director of Client Development.

The “Broaden” Part
Among all the interesting aspects of Michele’s professional trajectory, one of the most fascinating to me was all of the “broadening and building” she has done throughout her career. When asked what additional skills she felt had been important to pick up along the way, she mentioned sales, project management, instructional design, team management and leadership, conflict management, customer service, public presentation skills, relationship management, and recruitment, which is a combination of almost all these skills.

Needless to say, Michele is an exceptionally high achiever, and if she weren’t such a delightful, caring, and warm human being we could almost get away with tagging her as a fluke of nature. But the reality is that she’s a perfect example of how far – and in how many diverse directions – you can take your career if you adopt a “broaden-and-build” mindset.

Where Will You Build?
Although I’m not at Michele’s level of amazing breadth of skills, my own career has broadened beyond my initial MLIS skill set to include instructional design, business writing, online content development, client relations, marketing, public relations, personal coaching, project management, and team leadership, among other skills. Some were developed in response to career opportunities, others to new responsibilities. But regardless, each eventually ended up being part of my core skill set for which clients would hire me.

When you think about broadening and building your own career, think about what kinds of opportunities you want to open up in your future, even if those are at your current employer. What additional skills will enable you to contribute in a new way or at a higher level? You probably don’t need another master’s degree, but it’s just good “career insurance” to be regularly adding new elements to what you know and can do with that knowledge.

The alternative is to stay right where you are…while the world, and the profession, passes you by.