6

Just Showing Up

“Eighty percent of success is just showing up”   – Woody Allen

I’ve found the above quote to have a lot of truth in my career so far, but I’m not talking about just showing up at work. It’s easy to simply spend all your time in your office. You have a lot of work to do. It’s comfortable there. It’s safe. But I’m not sure that just showing up at your office is going to bring success.

What I’m talking about is just showing up in other places, especially outside the library. Go to faculty senate meetings. Go to community gatherings. Attend board or town hall meetings. Join committees. Go to conferences or informal gatherings of librarians. Go to social events or holiday parties. The benefits of just showing up at events or meetings quickly become clear. You begin developing relationships with others. People remember your face, know who you are, and know that you are from the library. By just showing up you become an ambassador of the library. You’re getting out of the library and spreading your message of information and helpfulness in multiple places. If you go where the action is, good things just start to happen.

You may be able to help someone on a project that they have been thinking about for a while. You may have a great suggestion at a meeting that utilizes library resources. You may find a colleague or faculty member to collaborate with on a shared interest. Informal conversations with community members, faculty, staff, or students outside the library can and do lead to much bigger things. But these things won’t happen if you are sitting in your office all day. The first step is to just show up.

5

An Elevator Pitch for Your Library

You have to risk making a fool of yourself

At Champlain College there is an annual elevator pitch competition. Students compete against their classmates for cash, honing their networking and rhetoric skills. They get ninety seconds to make their case in three categories: job seeking, business idea, or non-profit. I think this is such a cool idea and a useful skill to have.

Librarians could definitely benefit from practicing their own elevator pitch. Who knows the next time you might find yourself in a golf foursome with the president of the college, seated next to the mayor at a restaurant, or simply trying to convince a student about why they should use the library.

In the competition, an elevator pitch consists of four parts: an introduction, talking points, an “ask,” and a follow up.

For the introduction keeping it simple is fine. This part is about establishing who you are and developing a connection with the person your pitching.

For talking points, come up with a good list of things and then tailor them to whoever you’re talking to. Why should you use the library? Well…

  • Librarians will save you time in your research
  • It’s a good place to meet either socially or for group projects
  • We have resources tailored to your needs

You can elaborate on your talking points a bit to make a convincing case, but try to keep it to two or three points It’s important to keep your concept focused, or people won’t remember it.

Finally, you need to have an “ask” in mind. This is what you want from this person. Sometimes it could be something major, like additional funding.  But it could also just be simple like “stop by the library next week for our event,” or “here’s my card, contact me for help on your paper.” It’s also important to have a specific follow up action that you will take. “I’ll call you next week to set up a meeting.”

If this networking and pressing the flesh shtick seems a bit salesperson-ey, that’s because it is. We can’t be content to simply sit behind a desk and do our jobs. We have to sell ourselves and be ambassadors of the library. We’re in competition with a lot of competing interests so we need to build relationships, network and make people take notice of us. An elevator pitch is a good weapon to have in your arsenal.