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There are millions of South Africans and thousands of developers using LinkedIn to boost their professional profiles, is it worth the effort or is it online snake-oil? If you aren’t sure, it’s probably time you learned how to use LinkedIn. We decided to delve into the intricate world of online networking; so that you can use LinkedIn to get noticed. Like a Tinder for professionals, LinkedIn has a reputation for being useful but also sometimes full of garbage. The truth is, it all depends on your approach.

The trick with LinkedIn is to keep it strictly professional and not to fraternise with self-proclaimed experts and industry charlatans. Moreover, don’t give anyone the impression that you belong to any of the above-mentioned groups. After all, LinkedIn does house the profiles of executives from all of the Fortune 500 companies, you definitely want to make it work for you.

Jump in, Not Head First into the Deep End Though

So the trick with social media is to just be cool. We all have our quirks but unlike those weird little ticks which sometimes pass by unnoticed in person; online, in text and in full colour everything seems to be magnified ten-fold. Like an amateur in front of the camera, passing by undetected is your absolute best-case scenario. At least for a while until you get the hang of it.

Make a Good Impression

The way you approach social media is the single most important aspect of the whole process. Without barging in, in a hideous and obnoxious display, the first step is taken care of. Next, you want to build your profile, get a good profile picture and look the part. Take your time going through your professional CV and translating it into a coherent and full-bodied LinkedIn profile. If you are a developer remember to mention every language you can and have coded in. People want to know who you are and where your experience and expertise come from. Build your personal brand; this is your very own shop window.

Observe, Observe, Observe

Take a note from Jane Goodall’s lifelong anthology on anthropology and primatology. She lay low, didn’t get too extra and slowly earned the trust of her troop. Within the troop of chimpanzees, as in social media, Jane Goodall observed and slowly began to mimic the social practices of the chimps. She was and still is the only known human to have been accepted into a chimpanzee society. In social media, it is accepted that first and foremost after opening your account, watch and slowly mimic the more successful pack members.

Easy Does it

So you’ve noticed certain trends and behaviours, some people share interesting and relevant links, others post more specific status updates and other people seem to spend more time liking and commenting on the posts of others. Both approaches are good but the ideal is a hybrid of the two; based on your goals. Is it to present the appearance of a good resource, or rather as a more passive LinkedIn user? It’s definitely better to err on the side of caution and not overdo it; ever. Which brings us to another point, blatant, constant self-promotion.

Me, Me, Me!!!

Status updates are great when they are relevant, thought-provoking, consistent and valuable to your followers and connections. The problem is when you are overdoing it. Too much too soon, not the right tone and just irrelevant. Worse still – excessive self-promotion. Yeah, you had a great year, you achieved some awesome things, but it’s getting monotonous and boring for your followers. The trick is to position yourself as a thriving professional, not a self-obsessed chop. The primary reason social media has become the single fastest growing source of information is because it allows people to block out what they don’t want to see and rather interact with what they do want to see. Bad adverts, irritating connections and people who just shout out into the ether without consequence or respect for the reciprocity on with the entire medium is based; are not successful. They are the lepers of social media.

Now That You Know

The benefits of LinkedIn can be immense, but with great power comes great responsibility. Hounding people for jobs, endorsements and connections when you don’t even know them, is at best amateur. For the most part, it’s arbitrary, impersonal and rude. Chat to the people you know and expand your network by syncing your contacts with LinkedIn. From there join groups and when you gain rapport with people its much easier to make connections, not random ones either, ones that matter.

Of course, there is so much more to it, this really is just a broad overview but now you know how to use LinkedIn. By far the most important thing is simply getting started. The sooner the better. LinkedIn is a powerful resource and networking tool regardless of whether you are a developer, a data analyst or a UX designer, there is a comfy corner and a sweet spot for everyone.