The first time I tried to write this post, it was about my conversion from a big conference naysayer to true believer. You see, I've planned my schedule for ACRL based purely on "people I want to see" and have left "things I want to learn" aside. But then, with a lot of help from my writing group partners, I realized that what I was really writing was a post about how I network.
Because of Twitter and Facebook and my blog, I've made connections with librarians from around the country and even around the planet. I know, without a doubt, that these very real friendships are the main thing that sustained me as I traversed the learning curve of my transition from instruction librarian to library director. And I'm really looking forward to reaffirming those bonds in person.
I had no idea that I was doing that fabled thing all librarians are admonished to do at conferences and other professional outings. My thought process went something like, "Oh, so-and-so is cool online and they are going to be at the same conference/in the same city/attending the same workshop as me. I'm going to ping them and see if they're available for coffee or drinks or whatever." And then, somewhere along the way, professional collaborations started to be a fun thing I could do with my new friend.
So, it turns out that networking, for me at least, is an offshoot of gravitating towards like-minded librarians. By chatting with some, I've gotten presentation opportunities and partners. By being friendly with others, I've gotten publication opportunities. I'm not saying that it was easy, or that everyone can/should follow the same path. What I'm saying is a reiteration of what many others have said before me - find your people in this field, the people you like, and be yourself. Have fun, and don't worry about the rest. Get by with a little help from your friends.