Self-Promotion for Librarians (and Everyone Else Too!)

Self-promotion for librarians? Yes, it’s essential. Now more than ever, with funds for local libraries drying up and books going the way of “book readers”—as in devices—librarians must brave the evolving world of Library 2.0.

“Librarians, like the rest of the world, are having a hard time economically,” said Sarah Long, the executive director of the North Suburban Library System in Illinois, whom I spoke with on Library Beat’s “Longshots” podcast, titled “An Introvert Explains the Quiet(er) Path to Success.”

How has your field been affected by the economic downturn? No matter what you do for a living, getting your name connected to your accomplishments will help you get where you want to go. Yet, as I often contend, you don’t need to brag to promote yourself. “Just the facts, ma’am?” asked Long. Indeed.

Whatever your occupation, you can’t go wrong, especially if you’re an introvert, by following these basic tips to help you raise your visibility:

  1. Identify and learn to articulate your strengths and accomplishments. When I ask even highly accomplished introverts what recommends them, I often get blank stares and shrugs. If you don’t know where to start, take the free Values in Action (VIA) Survey of Character Strengths questionnaire.
  2. Target your messages to your audiences. If you’re an introvert, you probably spend more of your time listening and you tend to think deeply. Both of those activities will help you tailor your pitch to your stakeholders.
  3. Regularly tell your boss how you’re making a difference. If you’re an introvert, you’d probably rather immerse yourself in your activities than tout the outcomes you’ve achieved. Considering your career goal, what is your optimal balance between doing and talking about what you’re doing?
  4. Stay focused on your career goal. It makes it easier to spread the word about your contributions to your organization if you remember that doing so will get you closer to where you want to be in your career.

As an aside, for an interesting discussion on the fate of libraries and librarians, check out this article on CNN.com: “The Future of Libraries, with or without Books.”

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