Quick update (as promised) on my post from last week. As you might recall, I had a meeting scheduled with the folks from the Community Engagement Research (CER) Section of our Center for Clinical and Translational Science. I’m delighted to report that it went really well! Members of the team came with both with ideas in mind and a willingness to listen to my own thoughts. I came away from the hour with several concrete projects; suggestions that I now take to my library director for her approval and input on next steps. Together, we need to figure out some of the nitty-gritty before I jump right in. We need to think about things like how much time I can realistically give to this work, how I should track my time, how I should track the tasks, and other things that will help us down the line when we hopefully move from my being supported financially by the library, to being supported financially by researchers and their grant funding. Planning this out now will definitely help in the future.
As this was my first real shot at this new aspect to my embedded role, I want to capture a few things I’ve learned so far and share them here, in hopes that they might help others traveling the same road:
- Go with What (and Who) You Know: When charged with the task of drumming up business for you and/or your library, start off by going to people you know. Go to people you have some kind of relationship with already. This is probably Sales 101 (a class that I never took in college), but it certainly makes for an easier – and affirming – event when you walk into a meeting where people are happy to welcome you straight away. I also found it helpful to me that I chose an area of research that I’m both familiar and comfortable with.
- Plan Ahead: This applies to both sides of the table. I found that it was immensely helpful to me to write out a brief description of my new role, why I asked for the meeting, and some questions that I wanted the CER folks to think about before we met. I did this, you might recall, at the request of the person coordinating the meeting, but it turned out to be as useful, if not more useful, to me than to those that I wrote it for.
- Hang Around: While my proposal was only one item on the meeting’s agenda, when asked if I wanted to stay after I finished my part, I said yes. Good thing I did, because it resulted in 3 more project ideas being hatched! While I listened to the discussions and planning of other items, I easily saw places where I could help – things that neither I nor the others in the meeting had thought of before. I would ask, “Have you thought about …?” and “Are you going to do …?” and in the asking, we discovered new ideas.
- Follow Up: Even though I’m waiting for the meeting with my library director, I’m keeping the communication with the Team going. Yesterday afternoon, I wrote up my notes of our meeting and drafted a proposal to work on the things we discussed. I sent it to the Team members for comments and suggestions, and heard back last evening from one of the researchers who offered a couple of lines that helped clarify an item. Today, I followed-up with links to a report, a journal, and an article I found that were all relevant to one of the topics we discussed. (I also invited one of the researchers to my upcoming birthday party, but that might stretch the bounds of comfort for some of my readers here! For me, it’s part of the fun.)
All-in-all it was a terrific meeting, filled with possibilities, and it left me feeling pretty successful in my first sales pitch. Stay tuned as we move ahead!