Spotlight on Wisconsin Association of Academic Libraries
By Jill Markgraf, UW-Eau Claire
The art of networking and engaging in small talk comes naturally to some and terrifies others. The well-received interactive session, “Small talk is a big deal: making connections through conversation in professional settings,” presented by Jill Markgraf at the Wisconsin Association of Academic Libraries 2019 conference, resulted in attendees reporting that by using the strategies they had a richer conference experience.
Kio Stark, in her TED Talk Why you should talk to strangers, refers to a ’third thing.’ It’s a thing or experience that you and the other person share, such as a conference presentation, the long line in which you are standing, or--a failsafe— the weather. Identifying and then commenting on a ‘third thing’ is a key strategy for starting a conversation.
People who identify as introverts often feel like they are at a disadvantage in the small talk arena, but the truth is they often possess skills that make them excellent conversationalists. They tend to be good at noticing things, including ‘third things.’
Discomfort with networking is a form of performance anxiety, which can be rooted in excessive attention on oneself. Diverting attention to another person by asking question is an antidote. Going one step further and asking follow-up questions demonstrates active listening and a focus on the other person that lead to more meaningful and authentic conversations.
An often-cited source of anxiety related to small talk is how to gracefully exit a conversation. The phrase, “It was nice talking with you” is usually enough. A follow-up such as, “I need to get to a meeting,” or “I’ll let you get back to the poster sessions,” may feel more comfortable.
For strategies and prompts to try out at your next networking event, please see Markgraf’s Small Talk Cheat Sheet and Bibliography .
NJLA CUS/ACRL-NJ Open Membership Meeting Adds Mindfulness to the Mix
By Hilary Westgate, Ramapo College of New Jersey
The NJLA CUS/ACRL-NJ Open Membership Meeting is an annual tradition which takes place in August or early September each year. Current members plan and organize the meeting in hopes of welcoming prospective and new members, as well using the meeting as an opportunity to check in with each other about the past year’s progress and plans for the following year.
This year, NJLA CUS/ACRL-NJ President Cara Berg (William Paterson University), Past President Bonnie Lafazan (Berkeley College), and the two co-chairs of the Marketing and Outreach Committee, Linda Salvesen (William Paterson University) and Hilary Westgate (Ramapo College of New Jersey) decided to try something new for the meeting by incorporating wellness activities for librarians — mindfulness, goal-setting, and yoga! We hoped that with a new academic year beginning, all could benefit from these wellness activities.
Pictured: Cara Berg, William Patterson University
The meeting began with introductions and committee/organization updates. Bonnie Lafazan led a goal-setting workshop with a presentation, worksheets, and group discussion. We focused on our future goals either in our professional lives or our personal lives and the steps it would take to achieve them. We had the opportunity to discuss and share our goals which ranged from home cooking to publishing a professional article.
Pictured: Bonnie Lafazan, Berkeley College
At the end of the session, Linda Salvesen led a calming guided meditation with background music to allow us to be more relaxed and focused. Hilary Westgate, a registered yoga teacher, then provided a 15-minute guided gentle yoga and mindfulness practice to finish out the day.
As librarians, we often work hard to guide and teach others, and it is so important to also be sure that we are taking care of ourselves. These activities — goal-setting, meditation, and yoga/mindful movement — can help us to feel our best and more effectively handle the many hats we wear in our professional and personal lives. We all greatly appreciated the opportunity to practice these while getting to meet with our new and returning colleagues from across the state.
Pictured: Romel Espinel, Stevens Institute of Technology and Linda Salvesen, William Patterson University
Chapters Council Roster
Alison Marie Larsen
Heather A. Dalal