GovLoop: More Than A Social Network

Multiethnic Group of People Social Networking at CafeWhen Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, his goal was to merely have a tool for people to stay in touch with their friends. Little did he know that other social media networks would spawn from Facebook and become a haven for pictures of food and “selfies,” among other things.

GovLoop is one of those social networks, and it caters to public sector employees. But it’s more than just a place where you can see what your best friend who works at the U.S. Department of Labor had for lunch. In addition to networking more than 200,000 public sector employees, GovLoop provides online and in-house training and other resources for career advancement, according to its website.

Mentoring is also available through GovLoop at no cost. However, there are only so many slots available – about 75 to 100. Considering how many employees the federal government has, that’s not much. So make sure you sign up for GovLoop’s 2016 mentoring program ASAP!

But once you sign up to network with your fellow civil servants, what then? As we saw earlier this year with the hack of millions of government employees’ personal information, your identity is always at risk online. Government agencies like the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Department of Interior provide specific guidelines for how their employees should use social media.

Many of those agencies’ guidelines for social media use seem to be common sense – only use social media when discussing your area of professional expertise, clearly state when you are offering a personal opinion that doesn’t reflect your professional duties, etc. But as we see all too often, many employees don’t follow these guidelines and land themselves in hot water.

However, that shouldn’t dissuade you from exploring the use social media to leverage your duties as a government employee – it can even become advantageous. A study from the State University of New York-Albany’s Center for Technology in Government outlined eight elements that could enable social media to become a valuable tool for government agencies to better serve the public.

With a clear set of guidelines, diligent oversight and just plain old common sense, using social media as a government employee can be an advantage for both of you personally and for the society at large which you serve.

By Chris Huntemann

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