I have been shockingly slow in blogging about this, I think in part because I’m still trying to get my head around it: this year I am running as one of the candidates for SLA’s Board of Directors. If elected, I will serve the Chapter Cabinet for three consecutive years, as Chair-Elect, Chair, and Past-Chair respectively.
Despite being completely surprised when I received the call offering me the nomination, I found it surprisingly easy to squash my impostor syndrome – of course I was thrilled to be asked, there are many people who are equally suitably qualified, and it’s still kind of scary, and overwhelming – but actually I believe I’d be good at this.
Attending SLA’s annual conference as a candidate was a fantastic experience. I love SLA conferences, and always get a lot out of them, but this time it took on a whole new dimension. We were each assigned a current board member as a mentor, and meeting with mine just before the conference started left me full of energy and enthusiasm. Many of the board members were generous with suggestions and advice, and we were given plenty of opportunity to interact with them, as well as SLA staff members, before and during the conference. Previous nominees were also tremendously helpful and willing to share their experiences too. “Have you got your business cards?” was probably the sentence I heard the most, and it was completely justified – I think I gave out more cards in those four days than my previous lifetime total. In addition to trying to get to a handful of sessions, I attended breakfasts, meetings, and more social events than I would have thought possible. (As someone who hates talking to anyone before 9am at the earliest, I did remarkably well with the breakfasts – especially after some pretty late finishes too!)
For me, the most important part of networking is making meaningful connections, so my main challenge was trying to sustain a high volume of interactions whilst still preserving their quality. This probably meant that I didn’t meet as many new people as might otherwise have been the case, but whilst reviewing the business cards I’d collected there were only one or two people I couldn’t bring immediately to mind, and I met many really excellent people who I hope to stay in touch with, so overall I’m happy I stayed true to this principle.
I am a huge fan of all the badge ribbons contributed by various units, and I selected and arranged a slightly ridiculous number of these very carefully. To my great surprise, this turned out to be an excellent way of meeting people too – there were many occasions when my collection prompted somebody to make a comment, or ask a question, and I had lots of fun conversations as a result.
Perhaps the oddest part of the experience was being called on to stand up in meetings at various points – I appreciate that this helps everyone to recognise the candidates, but I did find it slightly strange. I was also a little disappointed by how few tough questions I was asked – most people were very supportive and interested, but not that many really grilled me about anything!
As for the next steps of the process, we’re all busily writing blog posts in response to a series of predetermined questions, there’s going to be a twitter chat at 2pm Eastern on July 27th, and there will be several webinars too (I’m participating in the one on August 17th). I’m also appearing with my fellow Chapter Cabinet candidate at events in NY and DC on July 27th and 28th. Clearly I’m more than happy to blog my thoughts, I enjoy in-person events, and twitter chats are always a lot of fun, but I must admit to feeling slightly nervous about the webinar. That’s going to be a completely new experience for me, and having listened to these in previous years some of the audience questions can be really thorny – I hope everyone is nice to us this year…!
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