To enhance your chances of success in the next phase of your working life, one of the best pieces of advice would be to build and maintain your own network. However long you have worked in the police service, you will have built up some sort of contact list (it may just be in your head, but you will know lots of people) though you may not have had much use for the term ‘network’ or ‘networking’ until now.
Networking is a socioeconomic business activity by which businesspeople and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognise, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures.
A network, in the context of business, which of course includes employment, is about people connecting with each other, with the purpose and potential that one day they may be able to help each other in a business or in an organisational sense. This could include introducing you to people that it may be worth your while to meet and vice versa. Whether that means putting people in touch with others, passing on information, leads, useful website links, news about job vacancies etc., it’s definitely beneficial to be actively focused on putting some effort into establishing and where appropriate, expanding your network.
How to Network
LinkedIn is the world’s number one professional online networking site where one in three of the world’s professionals are members. It also happens to be the place where the majority of recruiters look for potential employees.
The percentage of those in the police service that use LinkedIn is a lot lower than in the corporate world, though the numbers are growing. Whereas we tend to have a full or lengthy career in the police service (a ‘job for life’ was the intention when many of us signed up, even if times have changed), it’s very different in the outside world.
The current train of thoughts appears to be for people to have a ‘portfolio career’, where they tend to move from role to role and organisation to organisation a lot more readily than they used to – it’s now up to organisations to work hard to keep their best employees from going elsewhere (recruitment is expensive) by looking after them, training them, investing in them and providing additional benefits. Things have just evolved this way rather than people just deciding to move around for the sake of it – with more competition, a greater desire for success and people having to work harder to achieve things, employees are more willing to make changes to better themselves and avoid being considered unambitious or over the hill. More than ever before, workers in many jobs, particularly the most sought-after roles, are putting in more effort and putting in significant numbers of unpaid hours, even losing some holiday entitlements by not using up all their leave. We are not saying this is right, but it is becoming the norm in many industries, more so in the managerial positions.
With LinkedIn, it’s important to understand how to lay out your profile and make it attractive to recruiters, because you can just as easily get head-hunted for a role that you did not apply for if you come up on their searches and if your profile does you credit. Recruiters carry out numerous searches for particular competencies and criteria, so if you have those words in your profile, it increases your chances of being found. It is therefore also worth you stating in your profile exactly what you are interested in and also specifying if you are currently available for work.
Be sure to check out who has been viewing your LinkedIn profile on a regular basis and, if it looks like they are a recruiter, you could consider connecting with them. In taking that step, it is important to change the standard message when you attempt to LinkedIn with someone, to make it a bit more personal. Make it clear to them that what opportunities you are looking for.
LinkedIn also has thousands of groups, which you may think of as rooms of like-minded people who are interested in the same particular subject. You can search for, join and even create your own group, though if you intend to create one, make sure one doesn’t already exist with the same aims.
There are literally dozens of ways of maximising the potential of LinkedIn that go beyond the space in this eBook, but the bottom line is that you need to be on it and using it well, on a regular basis, both for employment opportunities and if you intend to set up a business.
Our 2-Day Police Leavers' Course will give you a good insight into how to make the best use of LinkedIn.
How to use Social Media Effectively
Each time you post on social media, it reflects on you. If you are in the market for a job or in business, make sure your bio tells the correct story about you.
Have conversations – don’t post adverts or try to sell to people. It’s a big turnoff.
Visit the social media pages of the relevant companies and people that interest you, like/follow them, share their posts, answer their questions, engage.
Make yourself sound interesting.
Positive photos – organisations like to employ happy, interesting, friendly people. They will probably check you out.
Try to behave on social media as you would in real life – don’t hide behind your keyboard.
Potential employers will use social media as part of the vetting process.
Do you back up what you tell them with what you say on social media?
Careless posts with a lack of thought or done when induced with alcohol can have devastating effects.
Before you post, consider if you would be happy for anyone to see it?