How many of you have received LinkedIn endorsements from folks with whom you are connected on LinkedIn? For the most part, individuals endorsing you for various skills and expertise usually are professionals you know or have worked with, right? Ah, I thought so.
Many of us have accepted LinkedIn relationships (“Connections”) with individuals over the years with folks we don’t know very well. Perhaps these connections were contacts of a contact and their backgrounds appeared to have affinity with ours. Anyway, for one reason or another, we accepted the relationship and they now form part of our LinkedIn Connections.
Many of these folks aren’t necessarily people we would ask to Recommend us (equated with our having performed services for them or having a highly developed professional relationship). However, the Endorsement function on LinkedIn now gives anyone the ability to endorse anyone else in their list of Connections.
Your Connections can endorse you for any type of expertise recommended by LinkedIn. Therein lies the “catch.”
If someone endorses you, LinkedIn will send you an email message, as well as indicating the endorsement in the top banner of your home screen. LinkedIn also gives you the option of adding these skills to those already listed under your areas of domain area expertise which you created in your profile.
I recommend reading what you’ve been endorsed for, before you accept the endorsement – especially from the folks in your network you don’t know very well. LinkedIn will pull various skills and expertise from the keywords you mention in your profile, as well as from other “who knows where” areas on their site. Jill Konrath and Ardath Albee surveyed power users of LinkedIn and found they utilize the breadth and depth of the site for business and brand building quite differently than simply building up endorsements.
Make sure the skill sets you are being endorsed for align with your domain area expertise and your personal and professional brand-building strategy. You do have a strategy, don’t you?
Otherwise, you end up with a large list of often amorphous skill sets which may overwhelm anyone reviewing your profile for the purposes of hiring you! You may end up looking like a Jack-of-All-Trades, trying to be something for everyone. Rather than complementing your niche-specific Profile, containing all of those value propositions you worked so hard to develop, you end up looking like a generalist.
You end up looking like everyone else on LinkedIn.
Unfortunately, the proliferation of endorsements by any and everyone on LinkedIn is beginning to go the way of “you endorse me and I will return the favor.” Sort of like the Facebook LIKE craze.
The overuse, and abuse, of LinkedIn endorsements, especially when people end up being endorsed for skill sets that don’t even fit their profile, potentially cheapens and commoditizes what you offer to the professional community.
Several of my LinkedIn connections were endorsing me daily. I didn’t know them very well. I thanked them via InMail for their endorsements. I did not return the favor since I wasn’t familiar with their work. They didn’t stop! Every day my Inbox was full of their latest endorsements of me.
I ended my connection with them when it became obvious that they were merely – and indiscriminately – collecting endorsements to enhance their self-perception of what they felt they offered the marketplace. I ceased to want to be connected with them when it also became obvious that they were endorsing me for skills that had nothing to do with the core competencies I offer to my constituents. It became obvious – and sometimes humorous – that they weren’t even reading the skills what they were endorsing me for!
Perhaps I’m an outlier here. I feel that Endorsements are equivalent to Recommendations. You earn them based on personal and professional relationships accrued over time.
What’s your own experience with LinkedIn endorsements?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo back into small and mid-sized businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector. She builds vibrant revenue-producing business strategies for technical start-ups seeking investors and early customers.