Social networks enhance federal career advancement

Wednesday - 7/29/2009, 7:12am EDT

WFED's Max Cacas

There are many paths to career advancement in the federal government. And those paths are just a little smoother because of some new ways to communicate available to just about any fed.

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By Max Cacas
FederalNewsRadio


It's almost a cliche, but most career counselors would tell you that in order to gain promotions, sometimes it's useful to expand one's outlook, and go beyond your box on the agency organization chart.

That was the premise of the "Broaden Your Horizons" panel discussion at the recent Excellence in Government conference, sponsored by GovExec magazine.

Bill Eggers, a public practice director with Deloitte, and author of the book "Gov 2.0" told the EIG conference about two agencies where staffers are using the new "social networks" to help them do their jobs.

At TSA (Transportation Security Administration), there are officials whose job is network managers of different industry areas, whether it's a shipping or maritime network, or trucking. And their jobs depend on their relationships with all the different private companies, and all the different people. And when you look at the State Department, they look at their job as being kind of ambassadors.

Eggers adds that one ambassador has added to her portfolio managing relationships with outside firms, and meshing those relationships with State's development goals.

Dr. Ron Sanders, Chief Human Capital Officer with the U.S. Intelligence Community points to the Pentagon as one agency whose practice of rotating assignments across the different branches provides military officers with a chance to enhance their personal networks.

"It's a fairly simple premise," he told the EIG audience. "That you don't get to wear a star unless you've been jointed, unless you've walked a mile in another service's shoes."

Sanders went on to explain how the 16 agencies that make up the country's intelligence apparatus are trying to institutionalize a similar program of cross-pollination within the Intelligence Community, by making inter-agency postings a pre-requisite for promotion.

Army Brigadier General Reuben Jones, who heads up the Family and Morale Command, says that fine-tuning one's networking skills, both inside and outside of the traditional circles that define any federal worker's job, is nothing short of essential.

"One of the things that I encourage all my officers to do," he said, "is to seek opportunities for growth outside the Department of the Army, because, what I've found is that I get a better person on the way back."

Jones says he uses social network tools like Twitter, and Facebook to develop a network of the very military families that his command are tasked with helping on a daily basis. He also uses social networking to connect with groups that support military families, including the USO, and other non-profit groups.

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