Business Law

Four Days of Wall-to-Wall Knowledge Sharing

Robert Drzewicki |

Robert Drzewicki is currently a graduate student in the MLS program at St. Johns University.

"Branding happens whether you want it or not," so best address it head on and actively take control and manage how you want to be seen by others.The SLA annual convention is officially over—WOW!—however, four days of wall-to-wall knowledge sharing sessions, outside networking events, vendor demos and the hospitality of New Orleans (along with the intense heat!) have made it difficult to get back to my regular daily schedule—what a great and memorable experience!

To provide some background, I am currently working on an MLS degree and trying to determine which career path I should focus on come graduation. Prior to the convention, I took advantage of the convention online planner and scheduled a few knowledge management, competitive intelligence, taxonomy and digital library sessions. These are of most interest to me as they are school courses I have recently completed or school courses I will be taking in the upcoming months. Besides scheduled sessions, I planned to attend some Business and Finance Division events along with Information Technology Division open houses. Fortunately, there were plenty of sessions, events and open houses offered to choose from!

All of the sessions I attended were excellent. Some of the sessions I found most memorable were as follows:

Social media is a hot topic and was well represented. I was able to catch 2 notable sessions: "Your Personal Brand and Social Media" and "Social Media for Business Intelligence." "Your Personal Brand and Social Media" was presented by Kim Dority and Scott Brown. They shared numerous tips for managing your online professional presence. Kim provided a few catch phrases which registered with me and drove home some main points. Concerning how to approach personal branding, she relayed, "market yourself as an undervalued asset about to go public." You are the authority on you, so present yourself in the best and most professional light possible. "You cannot talk your way out of something you worked your way into," in other words, lead by example. When sharing content, it is important to build your brand with your everyday actions. Finally, "branding happens whether you want it or not," so best address it head on and actively take control and manage how you want to be seen by others. Scott than followed up on some of the concepts and shared a number of examples with the audience.

"Social Media for Business Intelligence" was given by Ken Sickles from the Pharma Division. It was one of the most popular sessions I had attended. The room could not hold all the participants and the crowd spilled into the hallways. It involved using Twitter, Linked-In, Facebook and other popular social media sites to legally obtain competitive intelligence. Forty-five percent of small and private businesses use Facebook or Twitter—which is more than have a website! You can see company information on Facebook and Twitter ethically without exposing yourself. What are companies, suppliers, customers, partners and employees saying? The answer, as Ken relayed, "it can be as simple as putting out a tweet" instead of undertaking a massive Google search for information pertaining to company, people and products.

Knowledge Management was also well represented. Patrick Lambe hosted two intriguing sessions: "The Future of Knowledge Managers" and "Knowledge Management and Taxonomy." In "The Future of Knowledge Managers," Patrick kicked off the session by stating that Knowledge Management was "a fad that just will not go away." But the question is "WHY?" Simply, because—quality corporate knowledge will always be needed! He spoke about current problems and misconceptions that permeate the profession giving rise to detractors such as different mental models and lack of agreement on terms, needs and expectations. He also shared some insights on new roles and competencies that are relevant.

"Knowledge Management and Taxonomy" covered how taxonomy should be integrated into a successful Knowledge Management strategy. Emphasis was placed on taxonomy roles and responsibilities not taxonomy structures. He illustrated using a case study and the CYNEFIN sense making framework developed by David Snowden where you can identify four quadrants and progression of knowledge taxonomies progressing from chaotic (information overload, putting out fires), to known (developing docs and templates), to knowable (best practices and tacit), to complex (discovering patterns and trends, building wisdom).

Speaking of taxonomy, Heather Hedden presented “Taxonomy Made Easy,” based on her book The Accidental Taxonomist. I first met Heather at an SLA convention first timers networking event. The session provided an introduction to taxonomy, covering terminology and application. It was a thorough primer on the topic.

I also attended a few Business and Finance events with the Business and Finance Award Ceremony and Reception being the most memorable. This was a valuable opportunity to learn about and meet award winners and leaders in my division in a casual environment.

Finally, the convention closing presentation given by Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, painted a cautious picture of the future of the internet and its effects on the human ability to read deeply, absorb knowledge and how it will ultimately transform our lives in the future. Certainly food for thought....

Thanks again SLA-NY for providing this wonderful opportunity!

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