Recently I had the pleasure of spending the day with the economic development team at the Sunshine Coast Regional Council. People’s initial reaction when I run LinkedIn training is, “A whole day on LinkedIn! Is there really that much to know?” But in short, there really is.
Prior to the session I went hunting around for good examples of how councils and their workers globally are using LinkedIn for their organisational benefit, and here’s a few tips on what I uncovered and why if you’re a local government, or advising local government organisations, you should really take a look at LinkedIn.
1. People Want To Know You
People who work for councils and local government organisations, as a total generalisation, can often be quite risk-adverse and not to tend to like the limelight too much. So the idea of putting their name up in lights on a social network can be a slightly uncomfortable one. In years gone by, they’ve been very used to hiding behind the likes of customer service numbers and marketing teams to have any kind of dealings with the outside world.
The fact is these days however is that people would expect you in whatever professional role you have, to have a LinkedIn profile. And one of the first things I may do prior to having a meeting with you, or contacting you in the first place, is to Google your first name and last name.
Go ahead and try that exercise and just see how your LinkedIn profile, in 9 times out of 10, will come up in the top three listings, if not number one every time. If you are a local government worker, and do have a LinkedIn profile, do this exercise now, click on your link and see if you’re happy with it. If not, you’ve got some work to do.
The fact is people do business with people, not with other businesses. And in the modern world with the likes of social media, they expect this. And this includes being able to connect directly to local government workers, councillors and people from economic development teams etc.
2. Keep On Top Of Your Career
With changes of government, there can often be restructures in organisations, roles can be relinquished, an in the case of the Sunshine Coast Council, there has been a deamalgamation and with some people electing to move to Noosa and some actively seeking new opportunities. If this is where you’re at, then LinkedIn is definitely the network for you. It’s the number one job network in the America, and I predict that it will overtake seek.com.au in time to come in Australia too.
One of the women on the day who had a very specific background was amazed when I showed her how to search for jobs in a set location and a set industry, just how many highly relevant positions there were when her traditional searches in the likes of Google and Seek were not turning up a whole lot.
3. Distribute Key Messages Of The Organisation Further Afield
If as an organisation your are relying on your marketing team to communicate your key massages, that is all well and good, but just imagine how much further the messages could travel if each and every one of your staff, be it a government organisation or not, were actively posting the likes of company documents, such as economic development strategies or documents for consultation. If you’ve been struggling to get the community feedback you’ve been seeking as part of the consultation process through traditional means such as focus groups, surveys and general media, why not try LinkedIn?!
It it’s the business world’s feedback you’re looking for, this is a great way to connect with them and hit them through direct mail and status and company updates to let them know what your latest message is and how they can take action.
4. Show What Amazing Experience & Skills You & Your Organisation Has
Many people who work in local government organisations have had past backgrounds running businesses or in other countries and so on, yet people will make the wild presumption that they have been in the public sector through and through. Tell your personal career story through your LinkedIn profile and use the functions including current positions, past positions, skills & expertise, honours & awards and past projects to display, just to tell more of a story about who you really are.
5. Connect With Key Markets When You Have A Specific Need
Most regions will have identified priority industries that they wish to connect with and actively seek to grow and promote. On the Sunshine Coast the four emerging industries are: Cleantech, Aviation, Education and IT. The Sunshine Coast Regional Council workers were amazed when I showed them how to use the advance search functions on LinkedIn to discover people in a very specific geographic area (for instance Maroochydore and a ten mile radius), in a specific industry, in a specific role or from a specific size organisation.
Councils will often have a database of the usual suspects. People who’ve been on there for a long time and are very proactive in the community, but the real challenge lies (and the real success also) in growing that reach and actively connecting with the ones who aren’t aware of the services you as an organisation offer, and this can very much be achieved through the advanced search function.
6. Recommendations & Projects
Whilst you’ll have to clearly define your organisation policy when it comes to the soliciting of recommendations (otherwise known as testimonials), to feature on your LinkedIn profile, it is highly recommended. This can help demonstrate the great impact you are having on the community with taxpayers public funds, and prove that not all councils or local government workers are inefficient etc.
One woman for instance in the group is responsible for encouraging investment attraction into the region, and I encouraged her to, once attracting a new company, soliciting a testimonial or recommendation from them on her LinkedIn profile to outline the services that council and her as an individual had provided to them to make the choice of settling on the Sunshine Coast an obvious one, and to hopefully propagate more organisations to look at your region as a serious contender for them for initial establishment or expansion into other states or even other countries.
You can also share this story through the use of projects. If your role at a local government organisation is part project focused, use the project function to name the project, describe the start and end date, describe the project and what it entailed, and then to invite all of the people who were contributing to that project whether they were in the council or not. If you invite someone, people will have to accept and agree that yes they were part of that project and they’re happy for you to display their profile as part of a project member. But this can also show the great collaborative projects that you are involved in through your role in the local government organisation
I hope this post has given you some great tips on how LinkedIn can be beneficial to your organisation. I would love to come and train your local government organisation or provide you online training to the entire organisation. Talk to us if this is of interest1