CI Roles and Skills: Learn More at SLA 2015

Guest blogger Zena Applebaum offers a few suggestions for conference attendees interested in intelligence, analysis, and leadership.

I am a seasoned professional, and even have the word “director” in my title–and I go to the SLA annual conference every year. In fact, it is the highlight of my spring conference season in many ways.

ZenaApplebaumAs a non-librarian, when I was first told by my then-library director that I must attend an SLA conference, I looked at her like she was nuts. What was I to do at a library conference? I now know that SLA is far more than it might appear. The quality of the programming–especially what I see planned for SLA 2015, with the theme of “Be Revolutionary!”–is unparalled. There are courses for the novices among us, and the most seasoned.

On the heels of a successful session in 2014, I will be presenting a CE course on Saturday, June 13, called Going Beyond Basics: Strategic and Tactical Competitive Intelligence for Decision Support with my friend and colleague Michel Bernaiche of Aurora WDC. But what is of the most interest to me is the depth and breadth of the sessions for those of us outside the traditional library setting who use research or manipulate information and data (which, as a side note, I believe is many of us these days!). Just to point you in the right direction, here are a few of the sessions I think will be the stars of the show:

Researching Private Companies: Tips and Techniques for Solving One of Your Biggest Information Challenges! This Quick Take (a 15-minute program) begins at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 14, and I’ll be presenting with a long-time CI practitioner in the retail space, Phil Britton, who is new to SLA.

Analytical Tools that Deliver Value: War Gaming (Not the Revolutionary Kind!) is a Master Class with Derek Johnson of Aurora WDC on Monday, June 15, at 12:00 p.m.

The Power of Framing: Creating the Language of Leadership. This Master Class begins on Tuesday, June 16, at 8:00 a.m. with presenter Gail Fairhurst – the expert on communication as framing and leadership.

The Role of Information Professionals in Supporting Business Development – the Potential of Information Partnerships is a Master Class on Tuesday, June 16, at 11:00 a.m. This session features an impressive panel of professionals from both academia and the corporate world.

The sessions listed above are just a few of the many that I think will delight and inform, and give you something to think about as you return to your workplaces ready to demonstrate the value of SLA and of conference attendance.

One final note: let’s not forget all the amazing networking! True, social media is alive and well, just look at all of the SLA member activity on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Not to mention the sessions teaching you how to mine social media data or use it to your advantage as a research tool. But face-to-face communication and in-person, high touch-networking is still the best way to connect. SLA brings amazing, smart, savvy and curious people together to learn but also to enjoy one another’s company, and that just can’t be beat. If you are still on the fence, you know there is no better a place to learn than in Boston – fresh sea air, universities all around, and general feeling of revolution. Hope to see you there!

SLA Competitive Intelligence Division Chair Zena Applebaum lives in Toronto.

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