Tag Archives: LinkedIn

Presenting to community groups? Share!

After the presentation, put the slides online

After the presentation, put the slides online

Blogging about LinkedIn last time, one thing I neglected to mention was that LinkedIn allows you to “plug in” other applications like WordPress blogs, travel itineraries, Amazon.com reading lists, and Twitter feeds.

Those are pretty personal details. Unless your blog and your reading list are purely work-related, you might hesitate to plug them in to a professional profile. And who wants to tell the world when your family will be home alone while you travel to a conference?

Two LinkedIn applications, though, do deserve mention and merit for law enforcement use—especially those who regularly present to the public about crimes like identity theft and Internet safety. The SlideShare and Google Presentation applications allow you to embed your slide decks directly into your profile.

How sharing slide decks helps you

In the first place, posting your slide decks online helps your community. Not everyone can make it to your evening presentation at the local high school or senior center, and even if you can present more than once, that still doesn’t guarantee reaching everyone.

Making your presentation available online means that not only can absentees see it; anyone in the community can share it with family and friends, in or outside of the community. Think about the reach that has?

In the second place, sharing your slide decks helps your agency. Post them online, and the public affairs office doesn’t have to approve your in-public presentations, or field calls from people asking for help on “frequently asked questions.” Well, maybe they do… but your slide deck(s) make it easier for them to point to good information.

Same for when you hear from other cops who need presentations on your topic but don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Not only do you not have to email them the presentation; they can use it the same way you do: to inform citizens who can’t make it to their talks.

For one client, I didn’t just post slide decks to SlideShare; I then embedded them on the company’s main website. Depending on the deck, I could’ve embedded them in a blog entry, too. They’re a good way to provide visual content without having to deal with video, and embedding them in several places—website, blog, LinkedIn profile—means they are spread around the web, increasing the chances of their being seen.

This is important. If you know enough about your topic to present on it, then making it more available online means it’s easier for people who need your expertise to find you. I know, this makes a lot of cops (and their administrators) uncomfortable. But again, if you’re presenting in public, you’re already putting yourself out there, making those personal connections. Using the web amplifies your efforts.

A word about effective slide decks

Poorly presented slide decks can backfire, which is one reason why their use gets mixed reaction from professional speakers. Make sure yours get the message across without detracting from your live presentation, or being too vague and confusing when shared online. A contradiction? Actually, I recommend ThinkOutsidetheSlide.com and its companion blog. These ideas are expressed much more effectively there.

There is no good reason not to allow officers to put information out for public consumption of all kinds of topics. Slide deck uploads can help both the department and the individual officer, branding the officer’s professional career and “expert” status at the same time that it brands the agency—not only as a trustworthy source of information, but also as one that can be trusted to hire the right people.

What kinds of presentations can you start sharing today?

Image: Lachlan Hardy via Flickr

A starting point for professional officer development: LinkedIn

Used LinkedIn as part of a tiered social networking strategy

Used LinkedIn as part of a tiered social networking strategy

My last few posts have talked about the differences among personal, professional, and official police presences on the social Web; the need for goals and boundaries; and a little about knowing what the tools are for.

I want to focus on one of those tools, in part because it is a good start for officers to build a professional (rather than personal) presence online, but also because I was able to talk to one officer about how it fits in his overall social media strategy. That tool is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has changed since I joined it a couple of years ago. Then, it seemed to be little more than an online resume service with references conveniently built in. Now, it’s become a much more powerful networking tool, and not just for job hunts. PR professionals use it to connect with journalists; specialists use it to find other specialists to whom to outsource.

Law enforcement, on the other hand, uses it hardly at all. And that’s a shame. Here’s why: unlike Facebook or Twitter, it’s totally professional.

I won’t go into great detail about all of LinkedIn’s features. Other bloggers, including Ari Herzog and Dan Schawbel, have done that, and you can find an entire blog related to the subject. (Be sure also to read a ConnectedCOPS description of how one police chief networks at the executive level.) But I’ve blogged before about expert branding, and LinkedIn is probably one of the best social tools to do that.

The digital forensic expert

I met Sgt. Danny Garcia on Twitter, as I began to follow digital forensic experts. A computer forensic lab supervisor for the Miami-Dade Police Department, he has created a LinkedIn profile pretty much in line with what is recommended: detailed with his current experience, making reference to previous assignments; taking advantage of features like Groups* (good for networking) and travel itineraries (likewise, only in person); and of course, updated with recent connections.

What makes a law enforcement power user of LinkedIn? “I was reluctant to join at first,” Garcia told me. “A friend of over 20 years, a private forensic photographer (@wymanent), referred me about a year ago. I found it was the easiest way to keep in touch with professional contacts.”

Many of those come from conferences, but business card trading is about as beneficial as baseball card trading nowadays. “People move around in this industry,” Garcia says, “but if they regularly update their LinkedIn profile, I can see where they are and what they’re doing without having to chase them down.”

That’s valuable in a field like digital forensics, where examiners need to be able to reach out for help with specialized procedures and equipment. Likewise valuable: the ability to connect with information technology or non-forensic professionals who may have important insights about a problem, and even to find out who is no longer privy to restricted information.

If anything, LinkedIn is another way to provide what Garcia calls “instant, constant communication” with other practitioners, but because it duplicates neither information nor individuals, it’s an important complement to other online communities such as Forensic Focus or the many listservs that serve professional associations.

Limitations for law enforcement

There are a few general limitations to LinkedIn, but for law enforcement, additional ones exist. “Some things about law enforcement cannot be discussed even within a professional network,” says Garcia. “Group restrictions, site security, and any vetting processes are only as good as the person who administers them.”

Even though LinkedIn is purely professional, workplace policies may restrict its use. At MDPD, says department spokesman Juan Villalba, there is no specific social media policy, but the department is cognizant of what its representative officers can say about it online. The general conduct policy applies to off-duty online conduct, while another policy governs social network use at work, on county computers.

Garcia also points out that “social networking fatigue” may come into play among investigators who don’t want to visit one more site to keep up with things. So, just as he uses Flickr only to share photographs without discussing them, law enforcement officers should be able to use LinkedIn in the ways that best work for them—even if it’s not what “the experts” recommend.

Tiered social networking

A final note: what prompted me to approach Garcia about his LinkedIn usage was only in part about his profile. It actually started with a Twitter conversation we had about how he “tiers” his social networking, maintaining a strict separation among LinkedIn (professional only), Facebook (close friends and family only), and Twitter (a hybrid).

Other law enforcement professionals may find this kind of system beneficial, as well. Although it’s Garcia’s personal choice, he says, “Do the people I work with really need or even want to know what I’m doing on the weekend?”

The tiered approach to social media may also help people who are reluctant or unsure of how to use the technology. They need to know how it works for, say, investigations (I know some detectives who maintain Facebook profiles only undercover, or who use it only to learn about the site and its features). And they need to be able to see the realities of use in the event they ever do start to use it more regularly.

Overall, however, LinkedIn use carries far less risk than does use of any of the other social networks, and its possibilities range beyond individual officers’ professional development.

For instance, they may be able to connect with local business owners and service providers. That can be valuable to building relationships with people who want to learn more about kinds of crimes (say, identity theft) and how to protect employees and customers.

Professionals who brand themselves as such can only reflect well on their agency. Those who are guided as to how to brand themselves are far more effective than officers left to their own devices—who may not brand themselves the way anyone would want to see.

As Garcia notes, law enforcement officers should remember that they are held to a higher standard than the private citizen. “Status messages posted on social networking sites are often read by people who perceive statements as matter-of-fact,” he explains. “These statements may reflect poorly on not just the individual’s beliefs, but also reflects upon their agency and the law enforcement profession in general.”

How can you use LinkedIn to promote yourself as a law enforcement professional?

*Some law enforcement-related Groups:

Law Enforcement 2.0
Law Officer: Tactics, Technology, Training
PoliceOne.com Network
The Law Enforcement Network

Image: clevercupcakes via Flickr

How few is too few?

Image: <a href=Some law enforcement agencies may be reluctant to jump into social media because they are unsure of how many customers are really online. What’s the point, they reason, if they’re communicating with only a tiny fraction of the population they serve?

It’s a valid point. Committing already-thin resources to something that may not pay off in significant community engagement doesn’t seem to make sense.

Comcast’s emphasis on quality—not quantity

But then I read this interview at marketing and social media expert Valeria Maltoni’s blog.  Comcast Customer Service Manager Frank Eliason, long applauded for his efforts on Twitter and elsewhere, replied to Valeria’s question about whether his work with “one sliver of the Comcast customer base” had had a positive effect overall:

–It is hard to say, because we are doing so much to improve the Customer experience throughout the organization, that positive improvement truly highlights all of those efforts. I think the preferred measurement for the C-Suite has been how we have taken what we have learned from Customers and truly improved the experience for all Customers.

–Unlike typical measurements of performance, my team is measured on effectiveness and improvements they make for our Customers. I teach them to be proactive and find solutions to problems they encounter. If something is broken for others they are encouraged to find solutions.

In fact, social media as a means to communicate with small market segments is catching on all over the corporate world. This article detailed the way in which food makers are responding to “a niche the industry would once have dismissed as too small to target profitably.”

Not only are the companies changing their existing products and processes; they’re also investing in new products: “For a while, the larger companies said, ‘We’ll let someone else do it, and then buy them if they’re any good,’” said Bill Bishop, chairman of consulting group Willard Bishop. “Now it’s become evident that you give up too much in opportunity by letting it get developed by the smaller players.”

How long can you afford to wait?

Law enforcement agencies may do well to pay attention. It strikes me that many are, indeed, waiting to see what happens with the neighboring and other agencies using social media to reach out to customers. But civilians are online now, and the social ‘net is constantly changing, growing.

In the 9 months since I’ve been on Twitter, for example, I’ve seen law enforcement use skyrocket from just a handful of agencies and cops to—well, a lot, enough to form communities among patrol officers and digital forensics people and even some of the “official” agency pages, the PIOs who are inclined to follow each other.

It follows that other members of your community are joining, if not Twitter, then Facebook, LinkedIn, and any one of a hundred other social networks. Sure, that number may be small. It may stay small. But 1) how would you know unless you yourself were online? And 2) historically, often the smallest groups effect the greatest changes.

What small step can you take toward Web engagement today?

Image: me’nthedogs via Flickr

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Experts: Branding opportunities in disguise

Image: <a href=Much of the focus on law enforcement use of social media is on police departments as a whole. From a community-relations standpoint, this is important—but police departments may be missing out on a valuable opportunity to brand themselves and law enforcement in general. For that, they might consider turning to individual experts.

What’s an individual expert?

It’s the detective who, in addition to work with the PIO to “push” information through the department MySpace page, also allows the public to connect with him personally to end unwanted communications when they’re on MySpace.

It’s the cybercrimes investigator who’s actively involved on LinkedIn, connecting with other investigators through networking and even going beyond the law enforcement community to connect with counterparts in private industry.

It’s the cop who gives presentations to community groups, senior citizens’ homes, and schools—and posts them on SlideShare, where anyone can access critical information about identity theft, Internet crimes against children, and other high-profile crimes.

And it’s the patrol officer who’s on Twitter, or who keeps her own blog; who humanizes police work, shows the person behind the uniform and the real issues behind the 6 o’clock news.

Uncontrolled information?

To be sure, this idea is outside the bounds of traditional law enforcement hierarchies. Tightly controlled information has been—and still is, to some extent—crucial to the overall mission of preserving peace and public safety.

But social media has changed the way people look for information. They trust traditional media less, and each other more. That’s why individuals have a role to play in this century’s organizations.

CEOs of private corporations face the same issues as police chiefs. If “just anyone” can blog or tweet, doesn’t that risk the organization’s reputation just as much as the rogue on YouTube?

To some extent, yes. But the people who use social media tend to be there because they’re motivated to improve their own and others’ lives. Those who use it for malicious purposes are shunned—the implicit understanding among “hard core” users is that social media is there to help.

(For a look at a corporation that has allowed employees to blog freely, read this 2003 Seattle Post-Intelligencer article that went in-depth with Microsoft employee blogging.)

Thus the organizations that allow their employees free rein find success in the online social world. Likewise, the police departments that allow officers, within appropriate boundaries, to expand the reach of their overall community policing efforts can only improve their standing among the online public.

Image: Mai Le via Flickr

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Social Media vs Employer

Wow!  Imagine my surprise when I popped open my browser window to find this:

Cop catches heat for profane blog entries

Although Newport News doesn’t regulate the behavior of off-duty employees or what they write, individuals shouldn’t make reckless or malicious statements against city employees, according to the city’s existing policy. In addition, any conduct by police officers that’s prejudicial to the interests, reputation or operations of the city “are subject to disciplinary action,” under the city’s policies.

Since I am a sworn police officer who blogs on several different levels, you can imagine that it caught my attention immediately.

As I read the article I began to understand why this was newsworthy.  And the more I read the more concerned I became.  But then I realized that what is depicted in the article is only one side.  So I won’t pass judgment on the officer.

A little background

I blog.  I blog about politics.  I blog about local, national and international news.  I also blog about public safety agencies and Web 2.0.  I blog cop stories, war stories if you will.  And in all those niches, I also blog my opinion.  In those instances, I blog off duty, from my home using my home computer.  Lastly, I blog professionally as a police officer for my agency.  This is done on duty and with agency owned assets.

A little history

In August of 2007, I was involved in a local Virginia blogging controversy that gained some amount of old media attention, sparked conversations with lawyers and basically got really ugly.

I was accused of publishing the home address of a political operative on my blog.  He called my Chief of Police and filed a complaint, stating that I was harassing him on the internet and placing him and his family in danger.

The Chief of Police called me to his office to discuss this.  On the way to his office, I called my attorney and gave him a heads up and retained him just in case.

Once in the Chief’s office, he said, “I’ve received a complaint about your blog.”  And I told him the name of the complainant.  He nodded.  The Chief then played the audio recording of the complaint for me so I knew exactly what was said and then asked me if I could explain what was going on.

The first thing I did was show the Chief the blog post in question.  I showed him that the “published address” that was the central point of the complaint was in fact a screen capture of another web site and was a graphic, not a text publishing of the persons home address.  The key point on this is that the graphic was named something rather innocuous like “screetshot001.jpg” and provided absolutely NO search engine information.

I then took the Chief to the website where I retrieved the screen shot and showed him the page with the address on it.  In TEXT so it WAS able to be crawled by search engines.  On that website, the complainant is listed as a principle and while I don’t know for sure, may have been the web designer who manufactured the site.

I also showed the Chief that I have a disclosure on my blog indicating I was a police officer in a local jurisdiction and that this blog was private, maintained with personal funds and computers and was in no way connected to my agency or my city.  I did NOT identify which agency I was employed by.

Lastly, I showed the Chief my server logs, which indicated what time I placed the post online, and the IP from which I posted it.  It was something like 10:30PM (I work 8AM-5PM), from my home IP address.  He was satisfied that the complaint was unfounded and called the complainant back in my presence.

The blog post in question simply brought to light the position of the complainant and linked him, factually, with a nefarious action that he perpetrated.  All based in fact.  It did not attack the person personally or professionally, just identified his position and act in one place.

When the Chief explained to the complainant that the bottom line was a 1st Amendment concern and did not in any way concern or affect the agency, the complainant became upset and started screaming on the phone.  The Chief politely terminated the telephone call.

I had covered all my bases and carefully, made sure I was doing “things” by the book, and ethically.  It paid off.  Cost me $400 for the attorney but worth it for peace of mind.

Finally, I do not live in the city I work in.  I have no say, politically in the happenings of that city.  I don’t vote there, so who the city elects and puts in office is not my place to critique.  It concerns me but it’s not my place to say anything.    My primary blog is a political blog, but I just don’t blog about the city I work for.  It’s easy, and smart that way.

In the article quoted above, it lists some city rules that all employees must abide by.  If not codified in city code, it’s at least mandated by policy.  The city I work for has similar policies in place.

The meat of the article…

As police officers we ARE held to a different standard.  I’ll pose an example in the form of a question.  When was the last time you heard about an off duty  (insert any company) employee getting arrested from DUI?

You probably haven’t.  Just John Doe (my apologies to Mr. Doe) was arrested for DUI.

However, if it is a police officer, you would find that information on the front page of the newspaper:  Off Duty (INSERT CITY HERE) Police Officer Arrested for DUI.

We are forever associated with our agencies.  Even after we leave the agency.  The headline would then read:  Former (INSERT CITY HERE) Police Officer Arrested for DUI.  Even if we work for Office Max now.

Because we are held to a different standard, it requires us to act differently than the everyday citizen.  Because no matter what, we are forever and always associated with that title and agency.

In the case of the article cited above.  Was the officer wrong?  Is the city squelching his 1st Amendment rights?  Does the city have the right to curtail off duty speech?

I don’t know.  He made choices I would not have made.  But that doesn’t make him wrong.  I will leave that to the courts to decide if needed.  My position is classical.  Don’t bite the hand that feeds you; and if you are going to be critical, do it professionally and tactfully.  Not in a breathless, sophomoric, possibly beer inspired rant.

The final discussion point is policy.  Should entities, public or otherwise enact policy that would dictate the use of social media.

One school of thought is this, enact policy now to cover it or be faced with a complete ban later.  Another is, if the city has a policy similar to Newport News, that it is sufficient to cover behavior when using social media.

I don’t think that a city, or any entity can ban the use of social media when not at work, but I would not want to be the “test case” that has to fight it if it comes to that.  Smart use of social media is required.  Not so smart use should be dealt with appropriately.

Social Media vs Employer vs your rights

Wow!  Imagine my surprise when I popped open my browser window to find this:

Cop catches heat for profane blog entries

Although Newport News doesn’t regulate the behavior of off-duty employees or what they write, individuals shouldn’t make reckless or malicious statements against city employees, according to the city’s existing policy. In addition, any conduct by police officers that’s prejudicial to the interests, reputation or operations of the city “are subject to disciplinary action,” under the city’s policies.  -=SOURCE=-

Since I am a sworn police officer who blogs on several different levels, you can imagine that it caught my attention immediately.

As I read the article I began to understand why this was newsworthy.  And the more I read the more concerned I became.  But then I realized that what is depicted in the article is only one side.  So I won’t pass judgment on the officer.

A little background

I blog.  I blog about politics.  I blog about local, national and international news.  I also blog about public safety agencies and Web 2.0.  I blog cop stories, war stories if you will.  And in all those niches, I also blog my opinion.  In those instances, I blog off duty, from my home using my home computer.  Lastly, I blog professionally as a police officer for my agency.  This is done on duty and with agency owned assets.

A little history

In August of 2007, I was involved in a local Virginia blogging controversy that gained some amount of old media attention, sparked conversations with lawyers and basically got really ugly.

I was accused of publishing the home address of a political operative on my blog.  He called my Chief of Police and filed a complaint, stating that I was harassing him on the internet and placing him and his family in danger.

The Chief of Police called me to his office to discuss this.  On the way to his office, I called my attorney and gave him a heads up and retained him just in case.

Once in the Chief’s office, he said, “I’ve received a complaint about your blog.”  And I told him the name of the complainant.  He nodded.  The Chief then played the audio recording of the complaint for me so I knew exactly what was said and then asked me if I could explain what was going on.

The first thing I did was show the Chief the blog post in question.  I showed him that the “published address” that was the central point of the complaint was in fact a screen capture of another web site and was a graphic, not a text publishing of the persons home address.  The key point on this is that the graphic was named something rather innocuous like “screetshot001.jpg” and provided absolutely NO search engine information.

I then took the Chief to the website where I retrieved the screen shot and showed him the page with the address on it.  In TEXT so it WAS able to be crawled by search engines.  On that website, the complainant is listed as a principle and while I don’t know for sure, may have been the web designer who manufactured the site.

I also showed the Chief that I have a disclosure on my blog indicating I was a police officer in a local jurisdiction and that this blog was private, maintained with personal funds and computers and was in no way connected to my agency or my city.  I did NOT identify which agency I was employed by.

Lastly, I showed the Chief my server logs, which indicated what time I placed the post online, and the IP from which I posted it.  It was something like 10:30PM (I work 8AM-5PM), from my home IP address.  He was satisfied that the complaint was unfounded and called the complainant back in my presence.

The blog post in question simply brought to light the position of the complainant and linked him, factually, with a nefarious action that he perpetrated.  All based in fact.  It did not attack the person personally or professionally, just identified his position and act in one place.

When the Chief explained to the complainant that the bottom line was a 1st Amendment concern and did not in any way concern or affect the agency, the complainant became upset and started screaming on the phone.  The Chief politely terminated the telephone call.

I had covered all my bases and carefully, made sure I was doing “things” by the book, and ethically.  It paid off.  Cost me $400 for the attorney but worth it for peace of mind.

Finally, I do not live in the city I work in.  I have no say, politically in the happenings of that city.  I don’t vote there, so who the city elects and puts in office is not my place to critique.  It concerns me but it’s not my place to say anything.    My primary blog is a political blog, but I just don’t blog about the city I work for.  It’s easy, and smart that way.

In the article quoted above, it lists some city rules that all employees must abide by.  If not codified in city code, it’s at least mandated by policy.  The city I work for has similar policies in place.

The meat of the article…

As police officers we ARE held to a different standard.  I’ll pose an example in the form of a question.  When was the last time you heard about an off duty Office Max (insert any company) employee getting arrested from DUI?

You probably haven’t.  Just John Doe (my apologies to Mr. Doe) was arrested for DUI.

However, if it is a police officer, you would find that information on the front page of the newspaper:  Off Duty (INSERT CITY HERE) Police Officer Arrested for DUI.

We are forever associated with our agencies.  Even after we leave the agency.  The headline would then read:  Former (INSERT CITY HERE) Police Officer Arrested for DUI.  Even if we work for Office Max now.

Because we are held to a different standard, it requires us to act differently than the everyday citizen.  Because no matter what, we are forever and always associated with that title and agency.

In the case of the article cited above.  Was the officer wrong?  Is the city squelching his 1st Amendment rights?  Does the city have the right to curtail off duty speech?

I don’t know.  He made choices I would not have made.  But that doesn’t make him wrong.  I will leave that to the courts to decide if needed.  My position is classical.  Don’t bite the hand that feeds you; and if you are going to be critical, do it professionally and tactfully.  Not in a breathless, possibly beer inspired rant.

The final discussion point is policy.  Should entities, public or otherwise enact policy that would dictate the use of social media.

One school of thought is this, enact policy now to cover it or be faced with a complete ban later.  Another is, if the city has a policy similar to Newport News, that it is sufficient to cover behavior when using social media.

I don’t think that a city, or any entity can ban the use of social media when not at work, but I would not want to be the “test case” that has to fight it if it comes to that.  Smart use of social media is required.  Not so smart use should be dealt with appropriately.