How to Build a Professional Network in Criminal Justice
Knowing how to network can help you make the most of your career in criminal justice.
The average employed American spends 8 hours a day working.1 That’s a significant amount of our waking life—and we should make the most of it. If you have a career involving criminal justice, one way to enhance it is by expanding your reach through networking.
What Are the Advantages of Networking?
While many who hold a criminal justice job gain satisfaction from helping keep their community safe and orderly, the profession can be stressful and, at times, lonely. Whether you have a law enforcement job, support staff job, justice system job, criminologist job, or any other criminal justice job, you can likely benefit from building a professional network. A network can help you:
Enhance Your Visibility
Few of us want to be nothing more than a cog in the system. When you build a professional network, people in your criminal justice field will get to know you personally, which can open up new opportunities and meaningful connections.
Advance Your Career
Who you know can directly affect where you end up working. A professional network ensures you have contacts throughout your criminal justice field, improving the likelihood that, if you want to change jobs or advance your career, you’ll know someone who can help.
Do you have ideas about how to improve your area of criminal justice? A professional network gives you people to discuss your ideas with, and it can increase the chances of your ideas being heard by people who can make a real difference. Additionally, a professional network gives you the opportunity to hear new ideas and learn tricks of the trade.
Expand Your Support System
The only people who fully understand what it means to work in criminal justice are other criminal justice professionals. And these professionals can help you get through challenging times by offering advice and counseling you on the best ways forward.
If you are like many who start a job in criminal justice, you already have a desire to help others. A professional network lets you take that further, opening you up to volunteer opportunities and giving you the chance to mentor others entering your criminal justice field.
What Are Good Ways to Network as a Criminal Justice Professional?
Networking isn’t happenstance, and it isn’t simply going to a happy hour. It takes effort. Fortunately, for those with a career in criminal justice, there are plenty of networking opportunities.
Some of the best opportunities come from professional associations. These associations connect you with others in your criminal justice field through local chapters, national conferences, and online forums. Some of the top criminal justice professional associations include:
- American Correctional Association
- American Psychological Association’s American Psychology–Law Society
- ASIS International (Global Security)
- Mental Health in Corrections Consortium
- National Center for Juvenile Justice
- National Institute of Justice
- National Criminal Justice Association
- Society for Police and Criminal Psychology
Another great way to build your professional network is through LinkedIn. The site includes a number of groups focused on criminal justice jobs and issues. By participating in these forums, you can engage with others in your criminal justice field. Some of the most active LinkedIn groups for criminal justice professionals include:
- The Law Enforcement Network
- The American Probation and Parole Association
- Law Enforcement Information Technology
- Cybersecurity Law, Policy, and Technology
- Forensic Psychology
- Emergency Management and Security Professionals
- The Corrections Connection
How Else Can You Help Your Criminal Justice Career?
In addition to networking, you can improve your criminal justice career—and improve your chances of career fulfillment—by earning a criminal justice degree. In particular, a BS in Criminal Justice can help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to prepare for or advance a career in law enforcement, the justice system, corrections, homeland security, and social services.
The good news is that even if you’re already working full time in a criminal justice job, you can earn a bachelor’s degree. That’s because online education gives you the opportunity to complete your coursework from home. Plus, online learning allows you to study for your criminal justice major at whatever time of day works best for your life and job.
A career in criminal justice can be incredibly rewarding, particularly if you build a professional network and earn a criminal justice degree.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a BS in Criminal Justice degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.