OH what a difference a year makes! At this point last year, my first year working as a professional librarian, I barely scratched the surface of going to conferences and treated them like exercises in being a proper adult whose task it was to gather and compile as much data about the sessions I attended as possible in order to report back to the big boss. It was as though, upon my return, I would be expected to provide a full report of the conference, in order to justify the money spent to send me. It was all very serious- for a very serious person.
Bad news, everyone…i2c2 (innovation, inspiration and creativity conference) has unlocked the Pandora’s box of my personality and I.am.ready.to.rock! I greatly looked forward to going to this conference and was ecstatic when I was given the go-ahead to book a place. The programme offered a number of sessions that sounded right up my alley (as well as those I would be terrified to participate in) and the buzz about the group activities seemed more exciting than the typical before-lunch-session, which are usually light on content and not particularly satisfying.
I don’t particularly want to talk about the specific sessions or speakers from the conference- they were all brilliant and never disappointed. Rather, I want to discuss two of the important experiences I encountered during my two days in Manchester: learning to network in an honest way and keeping up the momentum of the conference “high” once the conference is over.
This was the first conference I’ve been to where the curse of being an introvert was overrun by my desire to find out more about the people I was coming in contact with. Whilst my execution was not always perfect (probably gave off weird fan girl vibes at times), I was propelled by the excitement of meeting other librarians that seemed to be speaking my language. I met so many people who seemed genuinely interested in what they do for a living, rather than interested in talking about all of the obstacles they face, making it impossible to be interested. It was incredibly refreshing to be around others who were willing to engage in conversation about possible solutions to challenges in a way that seemed feasible, possible and effective. At one point, I imagined what it would be like to work with the brilliant people I encountered at i2c2 and felt strangely sad when it was time to say good-bye. Two days started to feel too short, and with all of the inspiring things people discussed in that time, it seemed like a crime that we all weren’t working on something important together!
As I sit back at my desk in Ipswich, I think about what I plan to do next- as a result of my experience at i2c2. There were a number of sound bytes I keep playing in my head and reading on the twitter feed- specifically Ginger Williams’ comment about blogging when/if you have time to give it the proper attention. I typically go months without posting anything in my blog because I don’t always consider my thoughts an effective use of the blogosphere, but I’m starting to think that my attitude doesn’t exactly help. I’m still “young” in the profession. I have a lot to learn and a lot of time to, as Matt Borg put it, “ask for forgiveness rather than permission.”
With regard to following up on networking and collaborating, I very much look forward to staying in touch with the people I met at this conference and am very interested in seeking their opinions, advice and feedback in the future- especially those who live overseas. In addition to paying more attention to nurturing the professional relationships established at i2c2, I feel like there is a great deal of potential for collaborating more with those at my own institution. To date, there have been some opportunities for collaborating on projects with other teams- but I was always asked to do so. From now on, I’m taking. There are likely to be a number of skills, talent and ideas from other teams I’ve yet to take advantage of.
To keep the momentum from this conference going, I’ve resolved to keep up with Twitter more, blog more (especially when it is something that may be useful to others) and continue to reflect on some of the questions presented during the conference. I’m ready to make everyone love and hate me for being good at what I do and look forward to continuing to grow as a professional – keeping a specific eye on what I can achieve between now and LILAC.