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Career Strategies for Librarians
Why Network?
(an excerpt from Jump Start Your Career in Library & Information Science)
by Priscilla Shontz

Why should you network? Networks provide information, support, development and influence. You
develop your network of experts - people who know things, or people you can go to for certain types of
information. Some network contacts offer support by offering moral support or practical help. Mentors
and experts in your network can help further your professional development and training. Networks can
help enhance your influence and visibility, and can open doors for your career. Your contacts can support
your current position by offering you feedback, training, problem solving, and benchmarking. Contacts
can offer recommendations or serve as references. They can also help you widen your personal circle of
friends.

Networking helps your career in many ways. Networks can help your career by offering assistance,
giving early warning of situations or trends, and providing influence in certain circles. Contacts can alert
you to job openings, can serve as references, and can put in a good word for you at their organization.
They can speak about their personal knowledge of you, particularly if they have seen you produce and
interact in a committee or professional situation.

"Networking has helped me in day to day problem solving," said Laura Sill. "I not only have local
colleagues to consult, but colleagues from around the world. Networking has provided me with potential
job offers and with opportunities in professional organizations such as the American Library Association
(ALA). Professional involvement has broadened my view of issues I deal with day to day. In other words, I
don't generally take a local view of questions, problems, or issues. I tend to think big picture, and I would
say this is in part because I am able to be professionally involved. It provides perspective."

Ann Ercelawn agreed. "Professional involvement expands our world of colleagues and our perspectives,
as well as enhancing skills, whether or not it leads to career advancement - though it usually does.
Professional involvement in the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) has kept me from
'plateauing' out years ago, by providing me many more opportunities to learn new skills than I have in my
local environment. I've learned how to manage electronic discussion lists, how to create web pages,
how good committees work, and many other things from my involvement with NASIG. Best of all, I have a
large network of colleagues to call upon for assistance or advice in all sorts of areas because I know
them through professional associations."
About the Author:

Priscilla K. Shontz is a web designer and freelance writer and has worked in university, community
college, medical and public libraries.  She is author of Jump Start Your Career in Library & Information
Science and is a past president of the ALA New Members Round Table.     

Article submitted Mar 2002

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