by Christine Carmichael, Nebraska Chapter, Knowledge Management Division
“Bragging isn’t becoming.”
“If you’re good (or great) at what you do, you don’t need to brag.”
I beg to differ! In an era where competition is fierce, we have to toot our own horns. We need to differentiate our skill sets and focus attention on our greatest strengths. Here is how two of my strengths work for me.
Every professor, every student I meet absolutely MUST know what I can do for them. Then I make them WANT me to prove it. I have connections with people because I’ve made it my business to know what they are passionate about. Then I keep an eye out for related things. A well-timed email or phone call with a link relevant to them keeps ME on the radar.
But, making connections isn’t just about building your network. In my daily work, making connections between disparate pieces of information (and sometimes disparate people) is often where I have the greatest successes. This is where serendipity comes into play:
A pair of Marketing students came to me (requested by their professor) for help finding information on golf drivers. Talk about specific! General industry information was fairly easy, but driver rankings were proving to be a challenge. A database search of “ranking” and “driver”, while broad (think NASCAR, not PGA) netted an article in Cigar Aficionado. The students were awestruck! It was exactly what they had been looking for, but they were willing to overlook it because it wasn’t in a place they were expecting.
I was able to make them see a connection – one they weren’t looking for – between GOLF and CIGARS. (What else does one smoke at the 19th hole?) The students departed repeating one of my mantras: “You never know where a good piece of information will turn up.”
I suppose you could define serendipity as “just waiting for happy accidents.” In 2004, University of Georgia’s Elizabeth B. Cooksey said it was “one’s discovery of something new combined with the realization of a connection between it and something one already knew…” For me (and I have to think for many info pros) serendipitous findings are things I count on in my research process. They are “a-ha moments” writ large.
Am I Future ready? Serendipitously so.
Christine Carmichael is President of the Nebraska Chapter of SLA and Communications Director the Knowledge Management Chapter.