LinkedIn is the ultimate networking tool for any professional (the reason why it was acquired for $26 Billion). Many law enforcement officers are using it, but it appears that most aren’t.
One reason for this reluctance to set up a profile is to avoid being on a public forum where they may be searched. Many LEO’s, for good reason, avoid social media altogether. If they are involved in an incident or even an accident, their social media accounts may be used against them in a criminal or civil complaint or to try to get them fired from their jobs. Just merely liking someone else’s post on Facebook can be twisted to look like some kind of predisposition or bias and used against them.
LinkedIn does bear some resemblance to other social media sites, but it’s almost exclusively used for professional networking. Some users (to their own detriment) use this social media platform as a personal diary as well. If you are someone who uses social media as a diary and shares too much, don’t worry, most of the people that you’re connected with probably stopped following you. For the rest of us, LinkedIn is a networking resource that is invaluable as well as free.
As I’ve discovered working as a Police Officer with the NYPD, the direction of our law enforcement careers may be dictated by who you know as opposed to what you’ve done. Even after you retire, your network can have an impact on your post law enforcement career employment prospects. Whether someone in your network makes a phone call on your behalf, introduces you to someone who may help you or points you in the right direction, your network is your “ace in the hole.” Hard work and dedication alone often won’t be enough to get you where you want to be. Relationships should never be underestimated, as they can be the main ingredient for success.
Networking out on the street:
Figuring out how to leverage your time on patrol or in another capacity out on the street to grow your network should be imperative. Officers naturally develop relationships with the public in the areas they patrol and work. The NYPD, for example, encourages this through their new initiative “NCO (neighborhood coordination officer) Program”. People and businesses are very interested in forging relationships with the police officers in their communities. These people may represent your “ace in the hole” when it comes to assignments, promotions, side gigs, employment and other opportunities. Once you realize that you are being paid (and may have all day or night) to grow your network, you can start connecting the dots.
Networking on LinkedIn:
Law enforcement officers can use LinkedInto grow their network very easily. People in the LEO community are very happy to connect with one another. In addition to networking, LinkedIn provides a place to share LEO related topics and news. Here are a few things an officer can use LinkedIn for:
- Connect with peers from the entire LEO community (federal, state, city, town, etc.) from inside and outside the U.S.
- Stay in touch with current and former co-workers
- Stay updated about crime trends and practices
- Spot opportunities in the security industry
- Connect with people for business
Networking takes time and effort. For those who realize it’s potential personally and professionally, it becomes a lifelong endeavor.