This week I’ve been engrossed in the Syracuse University iSchool’s Pinterest contest on the ‘Future of Librarianship’. I entered last week on a whim with the promise of a free book for the winner (The Atlas of New Librarianship by Dave Lankes), but the competitor in me kicked in when I found out I was a finalist. Since then I’ve been consumed with the contest and I’ve learned a few things along the way, related in the form of cliche.
Once you get to the voting stage of something like this, merit goes out the window and it becomes a popularity contest. Whoever has the most friends wins, and that’s true in the professional world as well. I’ve been job hunting for a while now, and the jobs I get interviewed for are overwhelmingly the ones for which I have a connection at the library. That being said, I’m horrible at ‘networking’ – I feel like my intentions are transparent and I’m not sure what to saywhen I’m trying to stay in touch – “Hi, it’s Kaylin, I’m still alive! What about you? Cool. Let’s do this again in a few months, okay?” If nothing else, this contest has given me an opportunity to reconnect with old coworkers and friends.
Don’t burn your bridges behind you.
This is an obvious lesson professionally, but I never applied it to friends before. A year ago I decided to ‘weed’ the people on my Facebook page that I’ve lost touch with, thinking that if I haven’t talked to them since high school I had no need to read their status updates. It wasn’t a bad move generally speaking, but you never know when a long-lost friend or even an acquaintance can help you out. This isn’t to say I would keep every person I’ve ever connected with on Facebook just to win a contest, but maybe there are a few who bear revisiting.
Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.
Last night I was telling Evan about how I was in first place all day Wednesday and had contacted quite a few people to ask for votes, and he cut me off by asking, “all this for a book?” Okay, yes the prize is a book (one I’m looking forward to reading whether or not I win), but the greater prize is reinvigoration and involvement in my field after identifying as a cake decorator more than a librarian for so long. I also met some cool new librarians and added their blogs to my RSS feed.
Stick to your guns.
About midway through the contest, I decided to use my resources in a different way and ask a friend who regularly handles event promotions to give me some advice. “You can’t force people to get excited but you can make them aware,” he said, adding that I should make sure people feel my enthusiasm, hammer home my message, and stick to my guns. That reminder was invaluable, since I often fall into the trap of formality at the expense of passion and personality when I’m presenting myself professionally.
Find out who your friends are.
I had a couple of surprises in the course of the contest as well. One of my undergraduate professors voted for me, then asked if she could post a link to the contest on her Facebook page and share it around the English department – it was above and beyond what I hoped for, and I was glad to have her in my corner. I found the same enthusiasm in a current coworker, and it’s nice to be reminded who has your back.
All in all it was a rewarding but exhausting week and the results will be published on the iSchool’s blog on Monday.