Going up - profile raising for information professionals

Information skills can contribute so much to organisations. The trick is to get them noticed, says Jon Beaumont.

Information professionals possess a range of skills that can be utilised within our working environment.  Many successful organisations are increasingly based upon effective knowledge and communication systems, areas in which we are more than capable of providing outstanding guidance and critique.   Other prominent 'support' roles (HR, IT and Training & Development) seem to demand authority within organisations.  Why then is it that information professionals often lack influence within organisations, or go completely unnoticed?

A fundamental reason, I believe, is a poor understanding of the types of jobs we can (and indeed do) undertake.   

How can information workers raise their profile?

Networking - internal and external - is a relatively easy way to increase your profile. External information-related events, where we can network with our peers, are often where we feel most comfortable.  It's strange that we can sometimes lack a certain confidence to network with colleagues in our own organisations.  After all, we have our own understanding of how the organisation operates which should facilitate communication and enable us to enjoy water cooler moments.  Work events should provide an excellent opportunity to engage colleagues in conversations and share our expertise.

Open plan office environments are often presumed to be very disruptive, particularly if we have been used to a quiet ‘back office' environment.  However, open plan working facilitates excellent knowledge-sharing, best practice discussion and the opportunity to be involved with different projects.  If you are based in a back office, take the opportunity to 'embed' yourself with other teams or hot desk occasionally.  You might be surprised what you discover, or how many opportunities you have to contribute.

Finally, we must be bold. Not with an over-powering and over-confident approach, but we must realise how fundamental our skills can be to our organisation. Seeking invites to meetings where we may have substantial input may seem impertinent and unfamiliar. But this is what I sometimes have to do to get myself onto influential project teams and one would hope that following one or two contributions, your name may well be first onto any steering committee. Such an illustration of our vast skills-set should provide greater involvement and links with bodies which can have an effect on business objectives and development.

We perform an important role and it is about time that this was thoroughly understood!

Image courtesy of Procsilas via Flickr.