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5 Takeaways on Using Social and Professional Networks

LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman discusses the importance of networking for professionals in all sectors.

by / January 24, 2013
LinkedIn Co-founder Reid Hoffman (center) discusses the importance of social and professional networking at The Intersection event in Mountain View, Calif., held on Saturday, Jan. 19. Photo courtesy of The Intersection team.

On Saturday, Jan. 19, Google held its one-day gathering of innovative thinkers — called The Intersection — to “uncover new ideas, tools and ‘intersections’ that can … help inspire social change.”

In one panel focusing on entrepreneurship, Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media spoke with LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman and SAP’s Jason Yotopoulos, executive vice president of global research and business incubation, on new ways for professionals to innovate, communicate and collaborate.

Despite the focus on the private sector, however, Hoffman emphasized the overall value of utilizing networks in all sectors, and that it is crucial toto the importance in being a part of a social and/or professional network.

According to Hoffman, there are key points to know when it comes to networks and networking.

Here are five that could potentially benefit government agencies and departments:

1.    Have a network assembled around you; it allows you to do nearly all tasks better.

We’ve moved from an information age to a network age, and developing connections on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter enables you to put information out there and receive information in return. Government agencies and departments could follow this train of thought when connecting with their respective constituents. Making connections and collaborating could help build a stronger government network.

According to, social networking can help a government agency promote information and services. “Social networks expand the government’s outreach capabilities and improve our ability to interact with and serve the public.”

2.    All great companies cause a network to form around them.

The same could apply for government agencies and departments. Whether it be a social or professional network, being at the center could be a recipe for success. Interagency and intergovernmental social networking sites can also assist with better cooperation across government entities, according to Internal networking can help streamline communication across an organization when it is typically siloed.

3.    There is a myth in Silicon Valley that entrepreneurship is what happens when entrepreneurs are left alone. 

The reality, according to Hoffman, is that entrepreneurs must rely heavily on social networking platforms — functioning as a single entity does not work. This train of thought could be applied in the government space when developing new projects or completing existing ones. 

4.    Entrepreneurs should always build upon platforms. 

Because platforms can be anything from legal structures, rule of law or a platform of available resources, more successful entrepreneurial systems have really good networks and platforms that support it to serve as the foundation. Government agencies can develop platforms with this same concept for more successful networks, and state and local entities continue to create networking pages like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for two-way communication with the constituents. 

5.    If what you’re doing shouldn’t be printed on the front page of The New York Times, then you shouldn’t do it. 

And you probably shouldn’t share it on social networks. The idea is that if you're not doing something great, don't do it at all. This is a strategy that LinkedIn implemented has followed for years.

Photo: LinkedIn Co-founder Reid Hoffman (center) discusses the importance of social and professional networking at The Intersection event in Mountain View, Calif., held on Saturday, Jan. 19. Photo courtesy of The Intersection team. 

Sarah Rich

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. She wrote for for Government Technology magazine from 2010 through 2013.

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