The connected world has been polarised by the arrival of Linkedin skill endorsements.
Many websites have dismissed them as a short-lived fad; others see them as a useful short-hand for a recommendation.
Some, picking up on that argument, maintain that it’s far too easy to grant endorsements, and that their value is diminished by their ubiquity.
They complain that Linkedin – one of the leading professional networking sites – has dumbed down by introducing the idea.
But this post isn’t about judging LinkedIn’s decision to implement endorsements.
Instead, it’s about helping you get more value out of the social media you use.
It seems to me there are two perspectives that matter here:
- As a profile consumer, should you trust endorsements? Are there any clues to help you distinguish the frank and open from the frankly dodgy?
- And as a profile owner, should you actively solicit endorsements? If so, how?
To answer those questions, let’s start by examining the concept of endorsements.
According to LinkedIn′s Help Center:
“ Skill endorsements are a great way to recognize your 1st-degree connections skills and expertise with one click. ”
They also let your connections validate the strengths found on your own profile. Skill endorsements are a simple and effective way of building your professional brand and engaging your network.
Another way to view endorsements is that they are on a par with FaceBook’s ‘Likes’; low-intensity indicators that mean more in aggregate than in isolation.
I don’t necessarily mean that a million endorsements can’t be wrong, but that anyone with a sizeable number of endorsements must having something going for them.
In the meantime, while it’s nice to know that colleagues and associates value your skills, some people may feel compelled out of politeness to return the favour if they’ve already been endorsed.
For others, it’s just too easy to click and commend whole swathes of their contacts.
And some individuals have complained about the seemingly random endorsements they have received for skills they don’t possess, from people they’ve never met.
So are endorsements worth having?
I’d say, yes, provided they are seen as just one component of your online presence (and there are plenty of other ways to boost that).
Here are just a few reasons why.
- When recruiters are scanning profiles, it’s much easier and faster to create a long-list at by ticking off endorsements, rather than by digging down into recommendations.
- Same applies for those seeking business partners, or sourcing specific skills for a project.
- Earlier, we touched on the value of having many endorsements. If they are based around verifiable skills and experience, they can be an excellent personal brand-builder.
In contrast, having none, or very few, can itself be damaging. It says ‘Don’t bother checking me out’.
As for soliciting endorsements, well, Linkedin’s done most of the hard work on your behalf. When you add skills and experience to your profile, they act as a trigger, popping up opportunities for your connections to endorse you.
And whenever you endorse someone, there’s a tacit suggestion that – if they rate your expertise – may endorse you back. It’s probably best to leave it at that. Actively soliciting endorsements feels a bit desperate – thought his may change as they bed down.
As a ‘consumer’ of profiles, how can you be sure that the endorsements you see on someone else’s profile are genuine?
If you’re interested in a person and their background, it’s not hard to take a deeper dive into their profile.
Have the endorser and endorsee worked or done business together?
Do the companies, industries and specialisms chime with any endorsements received?
Are there recommendations that reflect the skills, experience and expertise claimed in endorsements?
And don’t forget, if you receive unwanted endorsements, you can always hide them.
So, are LinkedIn endorsements worth a click?
Yes , provided that you understand you’re seeing a snapshot, not the whole picture of the person.