The best way to serve business owners, business people, and job-seekers is to be embedded in the business community. Being an Embedded Business Liaison Librarian means consistently leaving the library to be involved in the Chamber of Commerce, teaching bi-weekly classes at a local career center, attending merchant meetings, providing video services to local businesses and more. Embedded librarianship is important to the business community and while they may not often consider the library as a resource, they are a group that can really benefit from the library’s services. Job seekers and small business owners don’t have limitless time or money; they need valuable information and assistance on a limited budget. That’s why you need to go out into the business community and make the library known.
These are five steps to becoming embedded in your business community:
- Create a list of groups, businesses, or business people that you might work with. Think of standard groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Village Hall Merchant Group, Small Business Development Center, and any local career places. Then think of the not-so-typical organizations: church employment ministries, entrepreneur forums, community colleges, and networking groups. Also check out meetup.com to find what types of business or entrepreneur groups are meeting in your area.
- Once you have a list of groups that you would like to connect with, get in touch with someone from that organization. Explain that you would appreciate an opportunity to attend an upcoming meeting to discuss some of the resources that the local library has for small business owners/ business people/ job seekers.
- Whether you have 10 minutes to speak or an hour, make your information relevant to your group. I try to refrain from mentioning typical library things like “we have business books” because that doesn’t surprise people. Talk about the type of resources that they would have no idea the library has: subscribed databases, technology training opportunities, meeting spaces, one-on-one appointments, workshops, and so forth. Make the presentation fun and interactive.
- The worst thing that you can do once you’ve got your foot in the door is to say “thank you for your time” and leave. You must create follow-up opportunities: promote an upcoming event at the library, offer to provide a group training session on a particular database or technology, and emphasize that you’re available for individual appointments. Have your business cards ready to pass out.
- Keep your face in the business community by attending as many opportunities as you are able. Try and think outside the box: ribbon cutting events, open houses, networking scrambles, exhibits, career fairs, job seeker series, etc. The same type of people go to these events so it’s a great opportunity to learn about the business community, find out what their needs are, and develop your reputation.
It’s important to remember that being truly embedded in your business community is not something that will happen over night. It will take time and a willingness to put yourself out there and listen to people’s stories about their business or career journey. The ultimate goal is to move from a mindset of “it’s strange that the library is involved in the business community” to a mindset of “it would be strange if the public library weren’t involved in the business community.”
Are you trying to reach out to the business community? What has your experience been like so far? Share your comments below!