If you’re like me, you have a zillion people you’re connected to on LinkedIn. Okay, maybe it’s 500+ but it’s a lot of people. My policy on LinkedIn connection requests is that I need to know you – like at least have met you at a TweetUp or cocktail party or through a friend or something. To me, it’s a quality vs. quantity thing. In any case, there are people who I’ve connected with because I met them through a vendor pitch process or at a networking event, but the reality is…do they really know me enough to endorse me?

Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love a ringing endorsement? Someone telling you you’re great at something. That is totally awesome. But, my question with the new LinkedIn “Endorsement” feature is – does an endorsement really matter when it’s from someone that you either don’t know or, more importantly, doesn’t know you? My theory is not so much. In my opinion, there’s a big difference between someone spending the time to write you a recommendation and someone endorsing you using this new feature. A recommendation is typically from someone I know and, more importantly, someone who knows me and my work WELL. Not just someone I met for 15 minutes who now says I am an expert in digital marketing. Um, really? LinkedIn has made it super-easy to endorse someone with the click of a button but, seriously, the guy who just endorsed me for partnerships and analytics was someone I met through a friend at a bar. So, I guess that’s a partnership, right? 🙂

I read a post on Community Organizer 2.0 that described it perfectly,

It leaves both the person being endorsed, and the person reading a Linkedin profile, in this awkward predicament of asking: are your endorsements real? To what extent does the person endorsing your skills have knowledge of your skill base and expertise? Conversely, how ethical is it for you to accept an endorsement from someone you haven’t worked with professionally, but who knows of your work?

So, what’s your opinion on the new LinkedIn endorsements feature? I am actually surprised that LinkedIn would build in such a superficial and non-legit feature. For a hard-core networking site – the social network for professionals – building in random features to get people to click around feels like a complete stretch. And, puts into question who these random people are who are endorsing you. PS: Who says “digital marketing” anyhow? Lamesauce.

My $.02. Tell me yours.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Sue Burton says:

    TOTALLY agree. I’ve been getting random updates of people who’ve endorsed me — near strangers, random former colleagues or acquaintances. I had no idea why they were suddenly endorsing me — then I saw the prompts and the “whack-a-mole” quality of prompting gamified endorsement. It has no value. I get that its like a “like” … but a like is a fleeting thumbs up. An endorsement should be meaninful. To treat it like a drive by thumbs up devalues it completely.

  • Chris C says:

    Agree with you they are crap. However, I do think within an industry — when folks know you — the volume of endorsements can be telling to a degree. Something along the lines of “hey, we ALL know this guy and believe in his knowledge.” Either way, endorsing someone for the sole purpose of receiving a return endorsement is terrible.

    • Michelle Heath says:

      Hey Chris, I completely agree. Endorsing someone you know is so different than someone you don’t know. Creates false hype and I wish LinkedIn was a bit more creative about building authentic sharing features.

  • Andy E says:

    They are of use to recruiters whose toolbox includes how not to select someone. Most recruiters aren’t proficient at understanding the job they are hiring for; most don’t even know what the buzzwords refer to or mean, including the acronyms. When Linkedin adds features like endorsements that require poking a button to verify someone has a particular skill, they loose credibility. It marketing crap that is no more than an extension of the inflated value bubble that is growing over America. We could call it the Inflated Bubble Value Train To Nowhere or IBVTTN. I should add that to my Linkedin profile; it sounds impressive.

  • Denys C says:

    This question has been raised pretty often.

    My 02 cents is that main issue with the LinkedIn endorsements pattern
    is that it takes no account of whether a person is a fit person to judge any real ability or expertise in a related skill.

    As a result, it’s fairly easy for anyone to click on a “skill” button and find his or her icon added on the endorsers row.
    No validation process is provided by LinkedIn. It’s more a “we fully trust you no matter what”…
    So without knowing the true background or expertise of the person who provided the endorsement, [nor the person who gets endorsed] we have to agree that it’s practically impossible to objectively quantify the true value of that endorsement.

    Based on that, I’m sorry to say that this pattern is rather clumsy and leaves the front door wide open to pure speculation.

    That brings us to a deeper question about social media image interpretation vs. recognition of true expertise.

    People should be fully aware of the fact that expertise is not something you gain in a weekend nor by the click of a button. The learning curve [in any specific technical or business field] may vary from one person to another, based on many factors such as skills, knowledge, gained experience or capacity to learn new things, but in each and every discipline, one has to start at the bottom and climb all the steps up one by one. This leaves no room for improvisation.

    I’m sure there are some professionals who undoubtedly have gained the skills and expertise to be in a very good position to endorse others. But we have to keep in mind that those true expertise were not gained through LinkedIn endorsements, nor recommendations.
    That’s where some people should get a good pair of windshield whippers before making a blind or naive interpretation…

    In many of these cases, endorsements are more of a “I’ll scratch your back and you’ll scratch mine” scenario or “two way mode” little fan club so to speak.
    No one is really an expert but hey what the heck, you’re welcome to join the fakers club anyway…

    The sad thing is that just like adding “muddy substance” in clear water. Without any filter, it can easily become polluted by fakers who in some cases may often raised quite a bit of skepticism at first sight.
    I don’t believe I would drink any of their stuff. Now would you?;)

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