Roll up, roll up - get the low-down on the New Professionals Conference!

Back from holiday now, so here's a second post in quick succession to make up for lost time... I’m on the organising committee for this year’s New Professionals Conference (run by CILIP’s Career Development Group), so here’s the inside track on what is happening. Full details of the programme are on CILIP’s website – this year it takes the format of presentations in the main hall all day, with parallel sessions going on at the same time for those who want to attend them. So the main papers are delivered in two clusters in the morning and afternoon – simultaneous to the morning are Workshops A and B, and simultaneous to the afternoon are Workshops C and D. You can choose to attend one of those workshops (you have to pick just one, and each is limited to 10 places; you put down a reserve choice on the form, but it’s first-come-first-served so book soon if you’ve a strong preference) or you can choose not to attend any of them, in which case you’ll see the full programme of presentations in the main hall. The workshops are quite practical and address specific subjects and needs – so if you don’t need what they’re offering, don’t just automatically tick a box from A-D… better to attend the main presentations which are many and varied in the same time-frame. If you DO have a specific requirement that the workshops cover, it’s a great opportunity to get some hands-on experience in a small group.

As has been mentioned elsewhere, an extremely high standard of papers were submitted this year. We literally could have run two conferences (perhaps three) without any ‘filler’; whittling down all the proposals was a very difficult process. The result, though, is an extremely useful set of presentations, on diverse themes but united by the fact that pretty much all of them (and this goes for the workshops too) will give you, as a New Professional, something to apply directly to your career once you leave the conference hall. There’s a lot to make you think, but there’s a lot which you can actually do, too – whether it’s to boost your 9-to-5 job, your use of social media, your professional development or your career aspirations. I will miss the morning session as it runs in parallel with my own workshop – I’m absolutely gutted because Bethan, Laura and Bronagh’s presentations look mint! Hopefully I’ll hear all about them.

One way you can hear what’s going on in the main conference if you attend a workshop is via Twitter. I know some people actively dislike twitter and the whole concept of micro-blogging (I used to count myself among their number) but so many Information Professionals have embraced it that we want to make the most of it at this conference. There will be a Twitter Officer who’ll have an official role to tweet on the conference throughout the day, and we’re hoping to have screens set up in the foyer with a feed of all the #NPC2010 tagged tweets from everyone as they happen. (I believe this is known as a back-channel… oooh, get me. Incidentally there's already an archive of #npc2010 tweets which is auto-updated as they happen, so check it out - distressingly, another event of some kind has since adopted the hashtag, but it's easy to sift those out as they're all tweets in a foreign language...) We’ll also be getting people’s Twitter usernames printed on their name badges – FOR THE WIN! :) This will of course be entirely optional, but for those who want to, their username will be on there with their actual real name too. Hopefully this will facilitate easy networking – it’ll break the ice, establish a way-in to talk to people, and of course mean you can get a head-start and build on existing rapport if you’ve interacted online already. W00t.

I’m leading Workshop A - The importance of an online presence: entering the world of library blogs and blogging. If you’re wondering whether this one is for you, here’s what it’ll consist of. I'm going to establish why I think it's increasingly important to have some kind of online identity in this profession: how it effects your employment prospects, what you can get out of it in terms of professional development, and what Google search results on your name will be like if left to their own devices... (this bit is hands-on.) I'll go through the various platforms and media used for blogging, and explain what is appropriate for each situation, and discuss all the annoying nitty-gritty stuff like registering blogs with Google, publicising them, generating traffic and so on. I'm keen on engagement with other people in the blogging community so I'll talk about the community aspect of it too. There'll be discussion of good (and maybe bad!) blogs, and I'll follow up on this blog with a top-10 essential blogs for New Professionals, too...

The focus isn't really on the content of blogs as such - I wouldn't presume to tell anyone how to write. It's all the other stuff that goes with it, simplified for you so you can get started right away, rather than learning by trial and error like the rest of us. The idea is you come out of the session enthused by the idea of blogging, aware of how it can actually be important to get online these days, and equipped with a bunch of practical knowledge it took me hours and hours to find out through searching asking questions myself... and you can go away and start a successful blog the very next day!

We've had a great rate of registrations so far, so get in there quick if you want to come. I can't recommend it highly enough - last years' was vibrant, vital, entertaining and exciting. There's also still time to win a sponsored place, via a CILIP competition, too.

- thewikiman

p.s you can help out one of the presenters at this year's conference with preperations for her paper, by filling out a sruvey as detailed here... Shiny Forager Blog Post.