Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Web Talk with Kim Dority

On Tuesday, November 24th, we met with Kim Dority, an accomplished LIS professional. She began her career in research and publishing with Libraries Unlimited. Now, as an LIS Career Expert, working with the Special Libraries Association, she has a lot of great advice for students in the field looking to start their careers. As I listened to her explain not only the importance of information professionals, but also the versatility of our skills I was struck by the realization that a wide range of opportunities were available to me.

One of the first big ideas she put in my head was the notion of building your professional equity. Your professional equity, she insists, is made up of what you know, who you know, and who knows what about you. This is the fundamentals of of successful networking, a notion we've all heard before, but perhaps haven't been taking too seriously. But Dority is right, in order to succeed you must build your network and build your visibility. You start this by building a base of contacts, or to put it simply, making relationships with your fellow LIS students and colleagues. Dority goes on to recommend that you keep your mind open and say to new opportunities. Her message here is to remind us not to let fear keep us from taking on a a new challenge. Chanel a spirit, she says, to convince yourself you can do this. She reminds us to let go of the need to be perfect and just be fearless.

"I haven't mastered that yet." 

When you approach a task, don't shy away from the unfamiliar. Promote your skill set and get that information out into the universe. Don't be afraid to use your network of colleagues to help expand your skill set. These are the key ideas Dority is pushing. As you build your professional equity you expand your capabilities to help other people. 

Next, Dority opened up the floor for questions and we instantly wanted to know if networking was so valuable how could sites like LinkedIn be used to help us. 

Her response:
It's something we all know, yet don't like to think about. Employer's upon receiving our applications, will be searching our online profiles to uncover our digital identities. Getting behind your online presence early is the best thing you can do. Not only that, but LinkedIn also provides the opportunity for people to reach out to you and vice versa. When you engage with the site you are able to follow the profession in groups and find out who the though leaders are. 
Dority's take on Twitter:
In addition to LinkedIn, we asked about her opinion of twitter as a tool. She promotes its ability to establish high speed connections and discussion. However, you do need to maintain a constant presence in order to stay relevant. She notes that Twitter isn't for everyone, but it can have great benefits when used properly.
 Organizing your Information Interview
 This is the perfect opportunity to build upon your professional equity. She starts by explaining how to get an interview. Sending emails to professionals over calling allows the interviewee to review your request and makes it easier for them to understand what they are saying yes to, or to reschedule a time that works on their schedule. She emphasizes that this is important, allowing the interviewee the flexibility of choosing when to do the interview. Afterwards, Dority stresses it is important to follow up with a written thank you note and use the chance to confirm you have remembered their advice. Next she recommends getting in contact again once you have implemented their advice and letting them know you appreciate their words and time. At this stage it is also appropriate to send a LinkedIn invitation. If you want to maintain that connection, start by giving back and treating them as peer.
Marketing Skills and the Jobs Search
Dority is very clear that you should always avoid the "j-word" when you are networking, it tends to scare people away. In addition to networking, it is important to volunteer both in your field and outside of it. When marketing your skills to outsiders use the most ambitious title for yourself, always make endorsements for your skills. The key is to get visible, get out there and think of new ways your skills can be transferred to outsiders. 

I am very thankful for the opportunity to talk with Kim Dority and get her view on what it takes to get your foot in the door to the LIS field. I am also eager to begin building my personal equity and implementing the advice she has given us.

- written by Amanda Wheatley (Fall 2015 co-chair)

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