One of the best aspects of working in Business Information is that both information suppliers and professional organisations are generous and committed to helping clients and members to network and get to know each other. I have been fortunate to be going to these events across London for more than twenty years, and relish seeing old friends and making new acquaintances.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the City Information Group was a professional association that hosted networking and social events across London in fabulous locations. Some of the memorable events were held at The Dorchester Hotel, The Conservatory at the Barbican, an Art Gallery in Bermondsey and the Dover Street Arts Club (Yes my friends, I still remember the quail eggs canapés and potent wine). Most of these events were sponsored by information and online services providers. So it was a very cost effective way for me to network, discuss interesting topics and purely for having some fun (I see nothing wrong with that!). Most of all, I still see myself as a tourist in London and so enjoy going to new venues. Sadly, the City Information Group no longer exists.
I have been a member of SLA Europe for 14 years and they are great at arranging networking events, educational seminars and tours across London. I get so much value for money from my membership, and honestly, I am not just saying that because I am their Membership Chair. SLA Europe are always hosting events that are on the cusp of the information profession and industry sector, such as ‘The Future of News’, ‘Tweeting while you work’, ‘The Evolving Value of Information Management’ etc. Their programme of events over the years has been exceptional for networking and for visiting interesting buildings such as Dow Jones at their News Room, Nomura Bank on the Thames riverside and the quirky Barber Surgeon’s Hall in the city. Some of these venues shown on SLA Europe’s Flickr account are private offices or corporate venues to hire, and therefore they would not normally be open to the public. There have been many more fun and interesting events over the years but I can’t remember them all. Along my same train of thought, here is a handy recent SLA Europe event review written by Vicky Sculfor with Top Five Tips for Networking.
“We are shifting from people who manage collections to people who manage connections.” – Deb Schwarz. SLA.
Timely too, is a relevant article and quote above from Deb Schwarz in SLA headquarters’ journal ‘The Connected Librarian – More than Social Media’, Information Outlook, March-April 2016. Deb evaluated from her colleagues that the “guide to the future of our profession” are:
- The connected librarian is about building and strengthening relationships, both within and outside the profession as well as personal and virtual.
- The connected librarian creates and maintains a linkage to time—past, present, and future.
- The connected librarian links people to increasingly diverse types and voluminous amounts of information.
Bureau Van Dijk (BvD), an online provider for business intelligence and company data, host two parties a year for their clients, often in museums. I try to make sure that these are in my diary! Some of these museums have been so remarkable, that I want to mention them specially:
- Imperial War Museum (IWM) – covers conflicts, especially those involving Britain and the Commonwealth, from the First World War to the present day. The IWM was renovated recently and it was special to be there in 2014 on the 100th anniversary of the first world war.
- Hunterian Museum at The Royal College Of Surgeons – has unrivalled collections of human and non-human anatomical and pathological specimens, models, instruments, painting and sculptures that reveal the art and science of surgery from the 17th century to the present day. This was the most surreal venue to network! Where you are surrounded by thousands of glass medical specimens whilst mingling and drinking canapés! The display meant I could not manage to eat in there but it is a must to see, if you like that sort of thing.
- The Natural History Museum– has 80 million specimens spanning billions of years. It is always amusing and enchanting regardless of the time of year or how many times you go. In 1995, I went behind the scenes on a private tour with a Brazilian Marine Biologist relative who was visiting London. We were shown extinct specimens that are inaccessible to the public.
- Wallace Collection – has unsurpassed displays of French 18th-century painting, furniture and porcelain with superb Old Master paintings. Earlier this year, we were impressed by the grandeur and exquisite French styled rooms and artefacts of a bygone era. It really is special, educational and heartwarming that we still have these treasures in museums for our collective history.
As I conclude, Librarians and informational professionals are one of the most connected professionals. Long before the Internet and LinkedIn, we have relied on our network for career development, to share information and knowledge. As professionals, we are still active face-to-face as well as tuned in virtually, and use this interconnected and interoperable network in an increasingly small world. Be it in search of good, sad or bad news and information – we are able to rely on our network to find, provide and support each other to show that we can help or that we care. Some sceptics may disagree. One thing is for sure – Librarians are certainly not boring!
For these reasons, I am a staunch believer in the idea of Six Degrees of Separation where people are linked in the connectivity of a modern but also digital world. I once helped to host a seminar entitled ‘Creating Connections’, where we demonstrated that people are linked from high official positions to people in the most remote places on Earth! But seriously, you can read more on this idea as there is much written on it in books and on the Internet.
When I need to extol the benefits of my profession – I always say that these social person-to-person networking events are a great opportunity for personal development and for business. Networking is a dedicated and fun time where reconnections and new connections with people are made with great camaraderie in quirky, grand and historic buildings, usually with food and drink.
I hope I have convinced you. What are you waiting for?