The business of government is by its very nature based on networks of people and their work. When those networks are connected through a platform like LinkedIn, the work of public servants and the benefits it delivers are enhanced for the common good.
For many public servants, the idea of business networking may have once seemed best left to businessmen and people with products to sell.
But increasingly, like minded public service professionals, including many senior executives, are now using professional social media platforms to share and exchange views daily and to collaborate with peers around shared challenges and opportunities.
With public servants commonly spread across multiple locations, these platforms make it easier to connect with colleagues in different departments or indeed different states working on similar projects and to quickly build shared communities of interest for the benefit of all.
Growing your knowledge, skills and network
The key benefits of building a modern day, professional network are many.
Firstly, and arguably most importantly, in terms of growing your knowledge, a social media platform like LinkedIn represents a far broader information and research platform than any newspaper or specialist media, featuring ever changing and topical content, constantly updated and including the views of local and global thought leaders.
LinkedIn allows users to tailor the content they see to only include more articles and posts matching their own interests or from people working in the same sector. In this way LinkedIn can quickly become a trusted daily resource for learning and the discovery of new thinking on a range of topics.
The second great advantage of building a professional network is the opportunity to broaden and build your current skillset.
Through greater access to the opinions of leading thinkers and the chance to read through real-life case studies, it is inevitable that, over time, you will build a greater depth of knowledge .
While posting comments or writing opinion pieces remains a matter of personal choice, active users can quickly establish themselves as influencers in their chosen field simply by judiciously sharing articles and content they find interesting.
The opportunity for people to add a short comment to a shared article or post often creates new separate conversations and simply by taking part, participants can quickly establish a positive reputation as a wise judge or informed commentator.
Learning made easy
There are also opportunities to take online courses that specifically target enhancing your workplace and professional skills through LinkedIn Learning Solutions.
There are hundreds of options to choose from and they enable you to access course material where and when you want at your own pace.
It could be gaining proficiency in software, cultivating productivity enhancing habits or sharpening-up your presentation and communications skills.
For government employers, there are also plenty of e-learning options that can be tapped into as a cost effective way of imparting knowledge and skills as part of staff development.
Fuel your career development
There are many benefits to growing your network.
At its simplest, being on LinkedIn provides the crucial opportunity to stay connected, stay informed and to develop your career by finding and getting job opportunities you might otherwise not be aware of.
Apart from potentially helping you with your next promotion or career move, as your network grows, it becomes an invaluable resource when faced with researching new tasks or tackling new challenges.
How much simpler it is to bounce ideas off someone with the right skills and experience that you have built a relationship with, than to simply start from scratch. All meetings are immediately easier when you have something in common.
How to build a professional network
In the early days of social media, the public sector took a cautious approach to being actively involved. Nowadays many senior public servants use social media as a key component of their departments broader communications activities including using it announce new policy initiatives or new publications, for writing opinion pieces or for advertising job vacancies.
Recent government information posted on LinkedIn includes details of the new NSW digital website and transport advertising campaigns, links to download a new insights publication from Austrade and an open invitation from DOE in Victoria to take part in a community engagement programme.
A recent simple call for help from a government CEO looking for a specific contact drew 30 helpful responses in just a few hours. Problem solved.
Once you’ve made the move to sign-up, building your network is straightforward. LinkedIn is free to join, with no hidden charges and once a member you’ll be given tips on who to follow based on your interests and your profile.
You’ll probably have a list of potential invites in your head already, but you can also find people you know by looking at the company page for their department. You can also add former workmates, university colleagues, friends and professional associates.
Once people accept your invitation to join, they’ll be notified whenever you like or share a post and they’ll be able to see any comments you’ve made. As you meet new people during your job, it’s easy to invite them to also join your network. To keep up with the latest trends, some users like to grow their network by following speakers that they’ve seen at conferences or senior public servants or opinion formers. The opportunities are limitless.
The easiest way to build your personal network without writing blog posts is through being an active sharer. By sharing an article or post you think your network might be interested in, you are building your own profile with your network. Nobody has the time to read everything, so we all rely on people in our networks to share the good stuff. And good sharing deeds tends to be returned as your network grows.
Or you can just use LinkedIn to stay in touch with people in a professional way and keep abreast of what’s happening in the areas of of government, industry and areas of interest to you. Whichever you choose, you need to be on LinkedIn first.