#blogjune post 13: Running for office: advice for SLA board candidates

My timeline is beginning to fill with #SLA2017 delegates getting ready for the Phoenix conference this weekend. I’m sad I won’t be attending in person this year. I will be watching from afar thanks to Twitter. SLA conferences have been an important part of my life since 2000 – the year of my first SLA conference. I’ve been to 12 of the last 17 conferences. Little did I realise in 2000 that I would get elected to the board twice & to serve as the first non-North American President in 2014. I’ve learnt so much from being involved in SLA & will miss the camaraderie of conference.

I’m also going to miss meeting the candidates running for 2018 board. Firstly, I’d like to say a big thank you to all of you for agreeing to run. You are incredibly generous people to say yes.

Having run for election twice, I know what it feels like: a combination of exhilaration, fear, excitement, fun, laughter & tears. All rolled into one & on display for four full days at conference.

Here are a few of my tips on surviving campaigning at conference:
– keep hydrated, drink lots of water;
– hand out business cards to everyone; you don’t want to take any cards home;
– to keep track of who you met when, remember to write on the back of business cards you receive,
date, time & venue. This is an important one you will thank me for it;
– hone your elevator speech on why you are running, & why someone should vote for you;
– get to know the other candidates, you will be spending a lot of time together. You will develop a bond;
– pace yourself over conference by trying to attend as many meet & greet events as possible. Talk to as many people as you can at an event. Ask questions and find out what is concerning members;
– choose a few must see sessions & try to ensure you attend for your CPD.

Post conference be sure to:
– contact everyone you met, & follow up on questions or comments;
– practice for your webinars, honing your message for why you’re a great candidate;
– keep up to date on current & emerging tends across all sectors – you don’t want to be caught out when asked about your thoughts on the impact of some news story;
– take every opportunity to interact with members;
– remember you’re doing this as a volunteer, you have to find a healthy balance between work, home life & SLA.

Enjoy the experience it’s really worthwhile. You learn lots about yourself, the organisation and how it operates. Plus you’re giving something back to the profession; for which we’re all thankful.

Are you ready for SLA’s Board of Directors 2013 election?

Ballot box imageSummer’s almost over, the Paralympics in London has started so that means September is just around the corner. For SLA that means it’s almost board of directors election time. I’m standing as a candidate for President-Elect and have been busy meeting and conversing with members, as have all the other candidates, since the early summer. We met a lot of people at conference, have all participated in webinars, and between 5-26 September SLA’s membership will vote.

Biographical details – for more information on each of the candidates, see our biogs on SLA’s website.

Candidates’ questions and answers – each candidate has answered five questions on SLA’s main blog. The questions cover the following topics:

  • advice on non-traditional careers;
  • when and why we joined SLA;
  • what our newest techie gadget is;
  • professional and personal benefits of participation in SLA;
  • involving SLA members outside North America.

Webinars –
treasurer candidates recording of questions and answers and cabinet chairs candidates recording of questions and answers (these are large files so may take a while to download).

President-Elect candidates’ podcasts – both Juanita and I have recorded interviews with SLA Europe.

X marks your vote

Don’t forget the election runs 5-26 September. All members eligible to vote (excludes organisational and honorary) will be sent an email with details of how to vote online. So remember to get out and vote early.

Finally, during my candidate process I’ve had people ask me about how to find out about what being on the Board of Directors involves, and how they can follow what’s happening at regular Board meetings. Two-fold response to that: look at the Board pages on SLA’s website, you’ll find details of recent meetings as well as position descriptions for the various roles; and don’t be afraid to contact the Board directly to raise concerns or issues. You elected them and they’re there to serve you and the Association.

SLA 2012 conference debrief


I’ve been back for over a month now, and have been slow in writing this post. I’ve been spurred on to get this done having read others accounts, which SLA helpfully pulled together. Here are my reflections on my 9th SLA conference.

‘Vote early, vote often’ – the candidate experience

We were after all in Chicago so the phrase  ‘vote early,  vote often‘  was used several times each day. As a candidate, I’m standing for SLA’s Board of Directors for the position of President-Elect; conference is a great opportunity to meet members and to get an idea of their concerns and issues, as well as answering questions about what I’d do if elected. I attended lots of open houses and receptions and met many interesting people. The one night that stands out, was Monday as it proved to be a logistical nightmare with three receptions, in different places in Chicago, to attend in a couple of hours. But the up side of this was that I got to go to two receptions I’ve always wanted to attend but not been able to: the Canadian and American West chapters. Both lived up to expectations, underlining conference’s fabulous networking opportunities. I enjoyed them so much I’ll be sure to try and attend again in future years.

The conference attendee’s experience

I found Ian Wooler’s post on how to use knowledge management techniques of learning before, whilst and after, to improve your conference experience very helpful. Here are my takes on:

‘Learning before doing (pre-conference)’

I was attending conference with the following aims: as a candidate for President-Elect, to meet and greet voters, to understand their concerns and issues, and to tell them about myself. So I was aiming to attend all receptions, open houses and as many sessions as possible to speak with members.

As a delegate I wanted to ensure I got an idea of the key trends and concerns in the industry and ideas on innovations I could take back to the office. I was aiming to attend at least one session a day that covered a broad theme.

‘Learning whilst doing (at the conference)’

I kept notes online (using Evernote) and in my notebook of the trends and observations I picked up from sessions and networking events I attended and here’s a list of the key ones:

  • ‘unconference’ events, in particular the impromptu one led by Lee Ann Benkert, gave a new perspective on session format and seemed to fill a gap in terms of providing a way for people to mix and interact that was missing from formal sessions. Lee Ann’s session was also a great opportunity to seamlessly include vendors and delegates together.
  • Global or international perspectives – for the first time in 10 years I really noticed a desire from attendees to hear more case studies and speakers from outside North America.
  • More collaboration between divisions with more co-sponsored sessions that provided an opportunity to approach subjects from a more holistic perspective.
  • Demonstrating or measuring impact and value – this was a common theme in sessions and during networking sessions and it resonated with everyone regardless of their tenure in the profession. It felt like it really was the emerging issue for us all.

‘Learning after doing (post conference)’

My key aims for attending: to meet and greet members as a candidate, and as a practitioner to understand key trends were both achieved. In terms of follow up I’ve completed this blog post, and attended Scott Brown’s excellent post conference webinar on how to usefully follow up the conference experience (one of his suggestions is cited below). I have kept abreast and commented on various blog posts and kept an eye on #SLAChicago on Twitter. Finally, I realise there are a few things to add to my post about preparing for conference:

– remember to write your name on the back of your name badge at the start of conference, then if your lanyard moves around people can still see who you are (thanks to Bethan Ruddock);

– keep your pocket planner, refer to it and the online planner in the weeks after conference to catch up on the sessions you missed and to look for trends when you do an overview of conference (thanks to Scott Brown for this tip);

– take more business cards than you think you’ll need, they’re your best bet for making and keeping in contact with all the great people you’ll meet. Don’t forget to write a few words on the reverse of the card you receive to remind you of where and when you meet the person. This will prove invaluable for jogging your memory on your return home.