Who normally gets the girl? The guy who helps senior citizens cross the street or the dude on the motorcycle? I surmise that the guy on the motorcycle gets more attention and likely wins in the short run, but the good egg is the one who has staying power and wins in the long run. This isn’t a dating column. This is a metaphor for our profession and ourselves.
Meredith Farkas recently wrote a response to Clay Shirky’s rant about women. She disagreed with Shirky’s assertion that “self aggrandizing” behavior is necessary to get ahead. Also my colleague Sarah Cohen also ruminated on this topic of self-promotion. She felt slightly uncomfortable sharing her success when she was nominated ACRL’s member of the week (which she deserves). I’ve also been thinking about this same topic. I recently got an article published in C&RL News (my first!) which I am really pumped about, but sometimes feel a little sheepish about when people mention it. I don’t really know how I should respond. I want to balance modesty with my excitement about being published.
In my opinion, the best course of action for us as individuals is to balance both the motorcycle dude with the good egg. Tweet your own blog post. Mention that you are the member of the week. You are doing great things. People aren’t going to find your stuff in this age of information overload, unless you promote yourself a little and are confident about what you’re doing. Most of the time, the reason I notice something is because it was promoted on Twitter (my Google Reader’s a mess). I don’t mind when people talk a little about themselves. That being said, don’t overdo it. It can get pretty annoying if you’re talking only about yourself or some project you’re working on.
Also, as Meredith pointed out, don’t lose sight of your values and what you’re trying to accomplish in the profession. If you’re simply trying to further your career you probably chose the wrong profession. Librarianship is about service and sharing. But if you’re looking at the big picture and what we’re trying to accomplish as a profession, you should share what others are doing too. There are a lot of cool things going on in our profession. One of my favorite bloggers, Chris Brogan, talks about promoting others a lot. He contends that you can build credibility through sharing cool things other people are accomplishing. As an individual, celebrate other peoples’ success and recognize the good they’re doing, but don’t forget that you’re making a difference too.
As a Profession
As a profession, I think we do need to rev our engines more and work on getting people to notice us. In this time of shrinking budgets we can’t afford to be meek. We need to continue to hone our PR and marketing skills. Get stories about the library in the local paper, create YouTube videos promoting the library, use social media to promote your awesome services, build relationships with faculty. If we don’t champion our own cause, who will? As a representative of your library, don’t be afraid to put on a leather jacket and be a little bad.
Thoughts? How do you feel about talking about yourself? Do you get annoyed by self-promoters? How are we doing as a profession in tooting our own horns?