Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are YOU LinkedIn?

LinkedIn® is a professional business-oriented online network launched in 2003. It is kind of like a Facebook for professionals, but honestly the most powerful social web site for business. LinkedIn can be used by organizations of all sizes and it requires very little social media know-how. With over 20 million users, many public library directors and even all 500 of the Fortune 500 are on LinkedIn.

Remember the old saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? LinkedIn encompasses this philosophy. That community member or board member who is anti-library? Well, maybe we have a friend in common that will allow us to break down barriers and start a conversation. Plus, have you ever Googled your name and found something unflattering or maybe there is simply NO information about you? LinkedIn gives us control of our online identities, it allows us to create credibility for ourselves and our libraries, and it gives our libraries another connection to our business communities and leaders

The first step is to set up a free profile (see mine) that summarizes our professional expertise and accomplishments, as well as our education. Once we have a profile, we create connections. When we find fellow professionals we know and respect, we ask to add them to our network. This creates a web of connections with a world of relationship possibilities. We can research people who are going to be at upcoming meetings, ask our friends to introduce us to someone we see is their connection, and do background checks on prospective employees.

Another benefit of LinkedIn is that it is low maintenance. Once we set up our profiles, we simply use it as a resource to manage our connections. All our connections' information is current and up-to-date, so we know how to contact them. Set up an account and check it out!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Connect @ Your Chamber

Many of you participated in the opal Advocacy workshop John Thompson and I co-hosted last fall. Among other topics in that workshop, we talked about the many important reasons there are to be active and involved in your local Chamber of Commerce.

First and foremost, a community is only as strong as its leaders. The Chamber is where community leaders and decision-makers network, gather information, and form opinions. Creating a relationship with these influential people makes our libraries more real and, in turn, they are more apt to be patrons and advocates. Showing up at events, introducing ourselves, getting involved - even if it is only a little- allows us to be leaders, too. When fellow members see our face, we want them to say, "Hey, there is our librarian Mary. She sure is nice. I saw her at a Chamber event the other day and I couldn't believe all of the programs they've got going on at the library! I took my kid there on Sunday." There. Not only did we encourage patronage, we have started a library buzz.

Second, the Chamber provides a collective voice to and with our elected officials. We need to be a part of making decisions that affect our libraries. Be present to help committees make informed decisions. Don't forget to be supportive of other community programs and services that could become great partners.

Last, but certainly not least, Chamber involvement is an excellent platform to promote our fabulous programs and services. These professionals, and their families, are valuable patrons. Word of mouth remains the best form of advertising, and what better place to start than from the mouth of an enthusiastic library director!

I am very proud to be actively involved in the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce as an Annual Meeting Committee Member, Leadership Eau Claire Curriculum Committee Member, and Media Day Co-Chair. Each meeting and event gives me an opportunity to be an advocate for our libraries. Whether it is talking about the increasing demands on libraries within dwindling budgets or the latest bestseller, it is an opportunity to bring awareness and start the conversation. Lead it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Intro to Blogging

Welcome to the Indianhead Federated Library System (IFLS) Public Relations blog. Thank you for joining me. To stay abreast of all postings, please sign up as a Follower in the navigation panel to the right.

We all know that social media is no longer an emerging trend; it is here, ready and waiting for us to utilize it. Many libraries in our System have expressed interest in following the example of Colfax Public Library in creating their own blogs. Many other libraries are still questioning the benefits of blogging, as we should with any social medium.

Although there is an initial time investment in setting up a blog, as well as the time it takes to do posts, there is no cost except time. Blogging is an excellent public relations tool that has the potential to strengthen your library's image, reach a new audience niche, position your library as 'on the cutting edge,' create credibility for you as a library director, generate interest within your community, and improve your search engine optimization, all while marketing your library's unique and beneficial programs and services.

If you are an IFLS member library and are interested in creating a blog for your library, please post a comment. I am entertaining the possibility of doing a morning 'workshop' with a limited number of participants to help you get your blogs started.