LinkedIn Endorsements: Trash or Treasure?

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I was going to title this post something like: The Gift Horse’s Mouth – Should we criticize LinkedIn endorsements as meaningless? Because that’s what they got called when LinkedIn rolled out the new feature late in 2012. I have a different view of them, though.

Depending on how active and clued-in you are on LinkedIn, you may or may not know the difference between a Recommendation and the new Endorsements.

Recommendations are prized — for the most part — because they come (or should come) from a person who is very well acquainted with your work, having actually worked with you and who’s aware of the benefit you brought to that work. If you’re an independent like me, the best recommendations come from actual clients pleased with you — those who respect the value you bring.

Recommendations can come from team members, too — showing how you collaborated on a successful outcome.Recommendations should always include concrete examples and specifics about that value and outcome. It doesn’t have to be long, just a couple key examples.

In other words, recommendations should be from legitimate business associates, not friends — and definitely not from someone who just “likes” you.

The main criticism that Endorsements have come under is the comparison to Facebook “Likes”. Several articles & blogs came out implying that LinkedIn might start creating a popularity contest with them, calling them “endorsements light” and “the stove top stuffing version of recommendations” (Forbes).

Once a skill or expertise of yours is endorsed, you receive a point for that particular talent…The Endorsement feature cheapens some of these accomplishments; it turns a candidates profile/résumé effectively into a “Like” contest. — PRDaily.com

Endorsements are given for certain skills — skills you know you have and sometimes, skills you don’t imagine you do. So someone can endorse me for copy writing, or social media, for blogging, editing — all legitimate pieces of my skill set tool box — or I could be endorsed for say, accounting (which I would not recommend you do in any way, since I’m math-phobic).

But are Endorsements “meaningless” and “fluff” as they have been called when they first came out? No.

Here’s where the “gift horse” comes in.

I started receiving Endorsements on my LinkedIn profile before the end of the year. It was always a pleasant surprise to see an email notifying  me who had given me an endorsement and for what skill. One day, I realized that I hadn’t seen or been in contact with some of the people behind the endorsements for a long time. Others I’m connected with every day. But all of them were paying attention to my work.

It seemed rude to ignore these compliments. I appreciated each of them. They may mean nothing to “power users” — and there will always be those who try to game the system with phony endorsements. But I don’t know people like that. I know real people.

I say use Endorsements for:

  • Getting back in touch with colleagues and connections on LinkedIn. It’s a good way to touch base and keep that relationship going. Time flies. Don’t let good people get away from you.
  • Making it an opportunity to re-connect face-to-face. In one case, for example, I had a connection that I saw occasionally at a organizational meeting, and we’d talked about having coffee but schedules & weather intervened over a year. When I received an endorsement from him, I sent him a note saying thanks, and hoped we could finally sit down together. I ended up with a tour of his facility and a great conversation that cemented our intention to work together. Then he introduced me to another contact he felt would be mutually beneficial.
  • Just saying — Thank you! All it takes is a quick message to that person on LinkedIn — a few sentences saying how much you appreciated the endorsement. That little personal communication means a lot — more than you might imagine — in business.

Ultimately, all social media should lead people to your door — whether that “door” is your website or email, or a phone call, or a face-to-face conversation. You should be a real person behind that door. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Fortune 500 company/brand or a sole proprietor — we all look to connect as human beings.

Providing endorsements is ideal if you genuinely want to give props, but are too lazy or pressed for time to write a full recommendation. An endorsement is much less involved and only takes a few seconds. — Eve Mayer, Forbes

Keep in mind, you still have control over your LinkedIn profile, and if you’re uncomfortable with some, you can hide them.

Any endorsement you receive that you feel is not true or associates you with someone you prefer not to be associated with is also easy to hide. In other words, stop freaking out about endorsements – they will not ruin a fabulous LinkedIn profile.

 

I say they just may add a whole lot more to your overall business life. You may end up with some beautiful horses in your stable.

What do you think? Have you received Endorsements? Have you given any? Do you think they have value?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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