A strong social media profile can boost your IT career

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Mastering social media could be the key to ongoing professional development and career advancement.Social media has become an integral part of effective communication and a source of information for organizations and individuals. If you are a tech industry professional without a convincing  and engaging online presence, then you could be at a significant disadvantage.

An up-to-date professional digital profile is crucial to career advancement and has helped many in the tech industry land a better job. Most employers looking to recruit IT personnel scan social media accounts to see what they can learn about potential hires.

Social media is a window to a world of possibilities. It is not only an opportunity to strengthen relationships with people you already know and expand your network in the industry, it also helps you stay abreast of the latest concepts and trends, create and boost your image, and draw attention to and promote your work.

Creating one or more online profiles is just the beginning. Almost everyone among your peers is on social media, so you need to stand out. Visibility is key and can make both bosses as well as potential employers aware of your work and strengths. Devoting time and effort to creating a strong digital presence is therefore worthwhile.

Intelligent and judicious use of LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms is vital, however, and can make all the difference between a successful and failed communication strategy. It pays to remember always that somebody somewhere can use anything you post online against you. You can never be too careful about online activity.

Make social media work for you

These guidelines can help you connect, learn, grow and get noticed by those that matter:

Choose Your Platforms: Choice of platforms depends on type of job and industry. LinkedIn is an entirely professional platform, which most tech pros who know the importance of an online presence join. It is ideally suited to professional networking and recruitment.

With more than 560 million members and active in 200 countries and territories, LinkedIn is the world’s premier professional network, one which no IT pro can afford to ignore. Many employers take a look at an applicant’s LinkedIn profile before proceeding with his or her actual application.

Mastering social media could be the key to ongoing professional development and career advancement.LinkedIn can prove very effective if you know how to use it. Unfortunately, not everyone bothers to learn how to develop a reputation there. It is best used as a career development tool, rather than a job search platform.

Though Twitter is more suitable for communications and marketing professionals, many tech pros join to make quick connections and converse online with others in their field. The platform gives you the opportunity to follow thought leaders and share ideas and commentary on the latest developments in your area of specialization.

Then there are niche platforms, such as Stack Overflow and GitHub for developers. On Stack Overflow, programmers ask and answer questions and discuss topics in their field of expertise. GitHub is a community for coders to interact with each other, collaborate on projects, share information and discuss experiences and ideas. You can include your name, email and a brief resume in your profile.

Potential employers often search GitHub profiles to look for recruits and assess coding ability. HR executives are not technical experts themselves, however, and would not be able to evaluate the quality of code. Those who look up GitHub and Stack Overflow accounts would do that to see whether you connect with the industry outside your day job. Many coders on Stack Overflow add a link to their GitHub account.

Follow the Rules: Be sure to always abide by your company’s social media policy. The importance of respecting company rules governing employees’ social media activities and keeping with industry best practices cannot be overemphasized. Most employers keep track of what employees say on social media. Go through your company’s social media policy in detail and note all dos and don’ts.

Take care not to reveal confidential information about your company. This could be information relating to a yet-to-be-released product or version, company finances, procedures, or any other data that has not been made public. Add something along the lines of “views are personal” to your profile summary. When you post information about your company, you need to mention you’re an employee.

Whatever your views, it is imperative to refrain from sounding controversial on LinkedIn and other social platforms. Discuss what you like with friends offline, but eschew maligning colleagues and bosses, or posting controversial remarks or write-ups relating to politics, religion, race, and gender online. You could lose your job or be rejected by a potential employer.

Be Professional: While “look at me and mine” posts with picture of family, or check-ins from a glamorous vacation spot, are fine for personal Facebook and Instagram accounts, overly personal or inappropriate content are usually red flags for recruiters.

If you have a personal account, make sure you don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your current employer, potential employers, and industry peers to see. Use the “private” setting whenever appropriate.

Engage Often: Once you join a professional platform, it is advisable to engage with your network regularly. Devote an hour or a half-hour each day to keep track of what your contacts post, as well as industry trends, and post comments and work-related updates fairly regularly.

If you are on Twitter, try to retweet or post something every other day. Remember to ensure that your comments, posts, retweets, shares, and likes are in line with your professional image.

Update Your Profile Regularly: You must convey the impression that you are up-to-date. Given that information technology is one of the most dynamic industries, employers will want to see whether or not you take the time to stay on current.

Update your bio regularly to reflect progress in your career. Whether you have acquired a new skill, outperformed on a project, assumed new responsibilities, won promotion, or have enrolled for a course, ensure that each development finds mention on LinkedIn soon after it happens. Try to post an update every week, even if it is about an award or a recently completed assignment.

Post Unique Content on Each Platform: Each platform is different, so your posts need to be specific to each. Do not post the same material across platforms.

Join a Social Media Community: According to experienced social media users, it pays to join the right community — like the aforementioned GitHub and Stack Overflow for developers. There are several communities for tech professionals on LinkedIn and Twitter. Find out which groups colleagues and others in your field belong to, and select a few to join.

Mastering social media could be the key to ongoing professional development and career advancement.Forge Relationships: LinkedIn has a number of search features, which you can use to find people you already know, industry networks, and companies. Developing meaningful relationships with peers and prominent people in the industry is an ongoing process, and it is advisable to keep in touch often by sending focused messages, replying to and sharing tweets, and greeting contacts on birthdays.

It is important to be considerate and polite when you connect. Sending connection requests to people you don’t know is not courteous. A better way is to follow those you want to engage with, and retweet and respond to their comments. Take the other person’s interests and privacy into consideration.

Periodically rework your approach

Social media activity needs to evolve as your career progresses. According to Fast Company, Dr. Tallya Waller advises young people to “Research some of the other thought leaders in your industry and see what kind of platforms they’re on.”

When you are beginning your career, focus on positioning yourself by searching for authoritative and influential people in your field, reading their content and posting substantive comments every now and then. This will help you get noticed and collect followers.

Mid-career professionals need to focus on deepening relationships with those who count. It is also important to let your connections know about your work by sharing articles, presentations and talks online and joining discussions.

With careful consideration and consistent application, it is possible to leverage the extensive reach of social media to take your career forward.

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Reena Ghosh

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Reena Ghosh is an independent ghostwriter who writes promotional, developmental and explanatory content for individuals and businesses. She came to professional writing with work experience in financial services operations and corporate communication. Reena speaks three languages and hopes to learn Sanskrit. She is a wanderer who spends time in West Bengal, Goa and any place that pulls.

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