A Community of Practice brings together individuals with a common interest or purpose and enables them to develop and advance their skills on both an individual and collective level.
Aslib’s new Business Information Community of Practice (BICOP) sets out to help promote and share good practice in searching for, exploiting, and managing business information. The inaugural meeting (22 February 2012) was held at City Business Library (CBL). Attendees networked and heard two presentations – one on career development by Jeremy Clarke of Sue Hill Recruitment and one by Goretti Considine, Business Librarian at City Business Library. She spoke about engaging user communities, stretching service offerings and marketing a service.
The City Business Library is a public library with a target market of SMEs, business start-ups and individuals. Having moved to the Guildhall complex in the last 18 months, its new location has helped to raise the Library’s profile. The Library space is also a great venue, and recent successes in building this part of the service mean CBL hosts anything up to 80 events a month.
However, what has really contributed to the ongoing success of the Library is the zero-budget advocacy and marketing undertaken by the staff. A mixture of continuous networking, clarity in the marketing messages, approachability and some risk taking have helped the Library to find sponsors, new customers, speakers, trainers and vocal supporters.
Lessons from Goretti
- Attend as many networking events as possible – even ones which seem marginal
- Have a great opening line (Goretti uses “you can’t afford not to talk to me” and has a follow up elevator speech ready
- Don’t go anywhere without your business cards!
- Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself – the Library now offers a Job Club for example
- Take risks and remember “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”
The evening was introduced and concluded by Graham Coult, the editor of Managing Information. The enthusiastic networking of the delegates show that there is great enthusiasm for business-focused networking opportunities.