professional identity

How to kickstart your professional conversation

So you’ve started a LIS (library and information science) Masters degree….or

  • information, knowledge or data management, or
  • records management, or
  • archival studies, or
  • information systems…

(tick and apply relevant area)

Essentially, you’ve entered the information professions.

If memory serves me, you’ll be about halfway through your first semester. You may have already heard things along the lines of ‘Are you on Twitter?’, ‘What’s your Twitter handle?’, ‘Did you know Twitter is a great channel for meeting and building connections?’….or quite simply, are you online?!

CC BY 2.0 Daniel Iversen via Flickr
CC BY 2.0 Daniel Iversen via Flickr

These (unseemingly) words of wisdom are imparted by those who have experienced the benefits first hand of having, and committing to an online presence.

An online presence or identity enables participation in the conversation within a community that shares and is passionate about delivering the very best information services and/or experiences to whom they serve, in whatever shape or form or sector. The conversation and information to be found online provides endless opportunities for learning about what you might enjoy in the information professions and what you might need to do and learn to achieve success in your career.

Now, as my current LIS students will know, I could keep talking on and on about starting and building an online presence, but truth be told, how it contributes to your own learning and development will only be realised when you actually experience it. This will look different to everyone. But if you need some convincing to at least have a crack at it for yourself, here are some reasons why developing an online presence or identity is important:

  • like it or not, this is a networked profession;
  • demonstrate your willingness to learn and skills in using technologies to potential employers;
  • establish support groups with your peers (and overcome feelings of isolation);
  • keep up with trends and issues in the areas you’re interested in (trust me, this is an edge when you go for jobs). You’ll drive yourself mental if you try to keep up with everything yourself. Let your network be your other set of eyes and ears;
  • make your first conference experience easier (because you’ll already know people from online);
  • participate in the wider professional community (read: sharing is caring).

I’m sure there are other reasons but they’re enough to get started.

I didn’t jump into the Twittersphere until my second semester of the LIS Masters. If you’re hesitant right now, don’t stress. You’re probably getting your head around this super amazing profession you’ve just signed up for. You are allowed to ease into it. There’s a lot to take in. Find your own pace.

Getting started: sign up for Twitter

Tips for setting up your profile:

  • (Please, please, please!) include a photo. Even if it’s not one you’ve paid hundreds to a professional photographer for. We’re still human after all. I personally don’t like talking to an egg.
  • Complete your bio. Interests (information profession related or not), hobbies and the fact you’re studying the Masters is a good start. Your interests will evolve over time but please put something in there so people have an idea of what to expect from you.
  • Pick one or two people who you know and see who they follow. Follow those who interest you. Or alternatively, use the list below.
  • Lurk awhile. That’s okay. Just get used to being in the space and watch what comes through. Resources, updates, conversation.
  • Then dip your toes. Re-tweet. Offer encouragement. Say Congratulations (not to some random person but someone who has actually announced an achievement or update).

Here are 20 Twitter peeps to get going on Twitter:

Gurus and leaders – @TrishHepworth; @flexnib; @kimtairi; @ned_potter; @janecowell8; @katiedavis; @partridh

Organisations and groups – @ALIAnls7; @INALJNaomi (I Need A Library Job – great resources); @InterLibNet; @ALIANewGrads; @aliangac; @aliaqld; @qutisg

Peers and other peeps I enjoy chatting with – @MichelleCoxsen; @LeeBess1; @katecbyrne; @ccmcknz; @sallyheroes; @megingle

Getting started: set up a Linkedin profile

Complete as much as you can but keep it relevant. For example, I haven’t included my work experience prior to my starting in the information profession. I do not disregard the skills and experience I gained in my early years as an administrator, executive assistant or PR consultant, but I intend to keep my profile consistent. (I may or may not change my mind about this in the future) But, say for example you’ve worked on creative projects or have contributed as a volunteer to an organisation or event. Pick out and highlight the skills you think contribute to your unique self as a professional and what you wish potential employers to see.

Again, please include a photo.

Getting started: set up Feedly or other aggregator

Some may say aggregators or RSS is dead. It isn’t. Yet. I still find value in following blogs and news feeds I won’t necessarily find on Twitter.

Adding RSS feeds to your aggregator service is pretty easy. I’ll let you discover that for yourself. 🙂

Here are some resources to get going:

  • Two New Librarians
  • David Lee King
  • In the Library with the Leadpipe
  • Ned Potter
  • Attempting Elegance
  • SLQ
  • Future Proof (IM/ records focused – State Records NSW)
  • Records Connect (Queensland State Archives)
  • Databrarians


You’ll find no shortage of help and encouragement in the online community. We’re not scary. We’re real people. And there are plenty of advice and resources available.

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1 Comment

  1. Awwww! Thanks for including me in the list of peeps you like chatting with. *Rushes away to quickly say something clever on twitter to justify said inclusion….

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