I’m currently at the National Council on Public History annual meeting (yay!) and with conference season ramping up I’ve been thinking a lot about networking. In this episode I discuss networking as an introvert, conference survival tips, and small steps to building a strong network. I also chat about virtual colleagues, asking for help, and reaching out to people you don’t know.
I would love to hear about your conference plans for this year and your favourite conference tips, leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.
At the start of November I participated in a meeting of Anglican Diocesan Archivists in Toronto. Spread over two days the meeting was a chance for Diocesan Archivists to connect, talk about ongoing projects, and discuss professional challenges and triumphs. Many of the archivists in the room have been serving as Diocesan Archivists for many years. For me it’s somewhat of a new role. I’ve only been working as the Assistant Diocesan Archivist for the Anglican Diocese of Algoma since 2014/2015 – it’s one of the many hats I’ve had the opportunity to wear at Algoma and has provided a contrast to the community based archival practice that I’m involved in the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre side of things.
The meeting was a good experience and provided a chance to connect with archival colleagues in-person which I always find hugely beneficial. Hearing about ongoing projects being undertaken at other archives provides inspiration and at times points for commiseration. Having a network of people to bounce ideas off and to discuss larger profession wide opportunities for change can be a huge boon. Similarly, I think speaking with archivists who are working in similar archives (in this case Anglican and often lone arranger) circumstances can be particularly useful for building professional communities and sharing resources.
I took a lot away from those two days of meetings and our discussions inspired a lot of introspection and questions around larger archival issues such as volunteerism, electronic records, and the term ‘decolonizing archives’. Parts of my thoughts on those topics will likely appear in blog posts in the future.
I’m going to leave folks with a short video clip from the “Keep Anglicans Talking” series of Anglican Diocesan Archivist Melanie Delva speaking about reconciliation and her changing perceptions of Indigenous people. Delva’s words speak directly to how working in an archive which contains records on residential schools can be a game and perspective changer. It is also a good starting point for larger conversations religious archivists need to be having around the TRC’s Calls to Action and archival practice.
I signed up for the mentor/mentee program at the NCPH annual meeting. The mentor program matches students and new professionals with ‘veteran’ NCPH conference attendee. Matches are made based on questionnaires and availability. Today I found out who my mentor will be. I haven’t previously participated in a mentoring program, so if been putting some thought into what I want to get out of the experience.
As part of the conference experience I would like to learn more about professional development opportunities with the public history field, how to cope with being a public historian within a large non history based organization, and general networking tips. Hopefully insight into these areas can be gained through a combination of sessions, tours, networking, and the mentor program.
A quick Google search of my mentor’s name brought up a number of popular history publications written by him. He has extensive experience writing short and lengthy histories for organizations, the profession, and the general public. I’m hoping to be able to talk about any advice he might have about both academic and popular publishing.
I think mentoring programs have the potential to be beneficial to both parties. If both parties are willing to listen and share, there is a pretty good chance both people will end up learning something. Additionally, bringing professionals from different generations, areas of studies, and geographic locations is always worth the effort in my mind.
Have you participated in a mentor program before (as a mentor or as a mentee)? Did you find it to be a rewarding experience?
Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
The greatest impact my friends or colleagues have on me this year is their ability to open my eyes to new ideas and avenues. In the past year colleagues have introduced me to books, local historic sites, networking opportunities, new topics of inquiry, and additional branches of the heritage field.
This occurred gradually throughout the year and helped me broaden my perspective and interests in the heritage world. I have also learned new skills and honed existing skills based on feedback and conversations with colleagues. I have found friendship, support, and enthusiasm amongst colleagues in the past year. I look forward to continuing to exchange ideas and experiences with others in the upcoming year.
Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
In 2010 I discovered and further explored a number of communities: -This year through twitter I became more connected with heritage professionals. This sense of connectedness was a huge help when I moved to a part of Northern Ontario without knowing anyone in the heritage field. My daily interactions online helped remind me that there are lots of people passionate about history and heritage out there. -In 2010 I also was exposed to the public library community when working with OurOntario on their Community Digitization Project. I worked with a number of small public library, participated in the OLA Super Conference, and the OLS-North conference. The enthusiasm, kindness, and collaboration in the library community made my experience a memorable one.
Looking forward: -I have started to explore my new found local community. Despite the fact that the town and surrounding area is home to only slightly more than one thousand people I’m constantly surprised by the number of activities and choices in the area. I hope to connect with more people in this community in 2011. -I also hope to further connect and learn from the Aboriginal community in the area. These connections occur naturally at my work but I hope to learn from the community on a level above the level required by my job.