LinkedIn Endorsements – my two pence worth

You can’t have failed to notice over the past couple of weeks that your updates have been filled with notifications of people endorsing each other. Whether this has been annoying you or has encouraged you to check out the profiles of those people, you’ll probably have your own opinion as to whether this is a key new feature or a step in the wrong direction.

Anyway, here’s mine …

For me, LinkedIn is a professional business that people use in a variety of ways from networking to developing business, to recruiting or job hunting. As such, anything that enhances your reputation or helps you achieve this is of benefit, particularly if it increases your standing amongst your peers or ‘ticks’ one of the list of requirements that potential prospects are working through.

My issue with endorsements is that I don’t feel they add a great deal in either respect, particularly to those who use the site a lot. You are prompted to endorse someone’s skills when you visit their profile and it’s done in an instant. There’s no real guarantee or vetting process to validate that you know much about the person or the skill you are endorsing. You are also encouraged to endorse skills which may not be the most apt ones … they are just the ones you are presented with.

Recommendations, however, do add real value in my opinion and the product recommendations likewise – here you have to think about and write why the person you recommend has ‘delivered’. But the endorsements are an easy click … one that really does not take any great effort or contain any real value.

What are others saying?

I have looked at a number of evaluations of the endorsement system over the past couple of weeks and there has been a distinct split for me.

Those who use the system as a business development tool from a B2B perspective have generally been against it. The worries expressed have generally centred around the lack of checking into an endorsement, the randomness of those that are initially highlighted to us, some technical issues and the ability for people to add them to someone else’s profile creating inconsistencies and duplications in some cases.

Those who consider the site to be primarily an internet marketing tool (and not so interested in using the relationship value) have on the other hand been supportive – if I were of a cynical persuasion, then I might add because it is both visual and easily gamed.

There’s a “but” …

To sum up my thoughts: I don’t like the system and feel little attraction in getting involved with it. It lacks substance in my opinion because it is too easily gamed and too easy for people to use casually … without thought in many cases (though by no means all!). I believe that those who use the site extensively, day in day out are aware of this.

However, most people don’t fall into this category nor do they spend large swathes of time on the site. Most people, including those you may be looking to work with, use it much less frequently – they are rightly selective of the time they dedicate. So a system such as the ‘endorsements’ which appears to offer access to an easy ‘ranking’ system of the skills and expertise that they are searching for when they look at potential suppliers / partners / candidates, seems to be an absolute godsend and something they will put great store by.

The dilemma therefore is whether I stick to ‘principles’ and stay away from it or let my commercial requirements take the upper hand, thereby making sure that I compete on all fronts and tout my wares when people look at my skills. Being a business person (and realist) I am likely, reluctantly, to do the latter – effectively because this is a business tool to me and I need to use all its capabilities as such. 🙁

Use the rules of the community

As a final thought: when we are on LinkedIn, we are part of a community which acts within certain “house rules”. If we want to be visible and achieve our aims for being on the site, then we need to use all relevant tools at our disposal to help us in that process, working within those rules. Here, with the introduction of the endorsements feature, the rules have changed and so we have to adapt accordingly. Therefore, like it or not, I will need to develop endorsements for the skills I have listed and perhaps even the skills I have assigned to my profile will need to change.

Realistically, therefore, that will also need to be the advice I pass on at my LinkedIn training sessions … and perhaps it’s that last comment that indicates most clearly which side of the fence I actually fall.

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