Thursday, May 25, 2006

Importance of Networking

Last night I spent almost five hours at the Bridgeport Education Summit. (For the purposes of this story, the reasons for the Summit are not important.) I served on the planning committee, and worked at the registration desk. I did participate in one of the break out sessions which gathered input for the school systems' new strategic planning process.

As we were walking in for the closing remarks, I walked in with the Mayor, his wife, the legislative liaison, and the Chief of Staff (COS). I have known the COS for several years. He had worked with the previous Mayor, and then had run one of the important cultural organizations in the City before becoming the COS. When I need something from the Mayor, he is my "go to" guy.

As we walked down to our seats, he turned to me and said, "Thanks for being there last night. I take attendance, you know." The last night he referred to was the ceremony swearing in the new Fire Chief. When I went, I told my staff, that it was an important "see and be seen" event. Little did I know.

While at the Fire Chief swearing in, I not only greeted the new chief, but had a chance to touch base with the Police Chief over scheduling a meeting to talk about security issues at the libraries. It pays to get out and network, especially with City officials. At the Summit, I saw more than half of the City Council, the head of the chamber and the head of the parent regional organization, the CEO of the United Way, the president of the regional charitable foundation, and many others (including some of my own Board members). If we are going to have a Librarian at Every Table, ask Kathleen de la Pena McCook advocates, we need to be visible in the community. Folks need to see the library director and think "Oh, the Library is here!"

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