It seems like every time there’s a discussion of competencies for librarians, somebody brings up networking. That’s understandable, but sometimes the conversation gets superficial, as if the metric for networking was PPM (People Per Minute) — how many people can you speak to / shake hands with / exchange business cards with — in a given time.
Sunday’s New York Times provided a welcome counterpoint in the form of an article by Adam Grant, of the Wharton School. Grant asserts that contacts without content are meaningless. The way to develop productive networking relationships is to bring something to the table: show that you have something interesting and worthwhile to contribute. As Grant says, “Networking alone leads to empty transactions, not rich relationships” and “Do something interesting, and instead of having to push your way in, you’ll be pulled in. The network comes to you.”
These are important career development insights for any librarian, but they’re especially critical for embedded librarians. When we talk about successful embedded librarianship, many of us (including me) put a strong emphasis on building relationships, and rightly so. But the key insight is that those relationships don’t take hold on the basis of superficial glad-handing. They take hold as everybody contributes to the attainment of common goals. Perhaps the starting point of successful networking and relationship-building is the belief that you have something to offer.
(Grant, Adam. (2017, Aug. 27) “Networking is Overrated.” The New York Times.)