First, to everyone who has taken the time to ‘Endorse’ me on LinkedIn: many thanks.
The theory behind LI Endorsements is sound. It gives people a quick way to acknowledge the skills of their connections. The other way to do the same thing is to write a LI Recommendation, but the fact of that matter is most of us don’t take the time to do so (although it doesn’t really take that long) and Recos usually only happen by request.
Initially, the practice of Endorsements lived up to the promise of the theory. If you felt like giving a Connection an online “pat on the back”, you visited his or her page, and chose from the listed skills the ones you felt comfortable endorsing.
Endorsements earned some respect and became a relatively popular way to do something nice for a Connection. Then LinkedIn tried to cash in on all the activity.
They began to pimp out Endorsements. Instead of needing to visit your Connections’ Profiles, LI dangled Endorsement possibilities at the top of your Profile page.
Suddenly, every time you visited your Profile page you got messages like:
“Does Biff Spackle know about Branding?”
Endorsing someone on LI became just about the easiest, and emptiest, gesture you could make online.
You and Biff probably exchanged business cards at a trade show in Vancouver in 2008. Never seen him before or since. You haven’t a clue if Biff knows his branding from his button hole.
LinkedIn shows how misguided our trust can beBut, you and the rest of us are very trusting. We all believe that, if LinkedIn asks the question, then Biff must be pretty good at branding. And we all want to be nice to each other on LinkedIn, especially when Biff might be connected to our next employer, so let’s just give old Biff the Endorsement.
I’m not sure how LI decides on which of our listed skills to display in the Endorsement recommendations it makes to our connections, but, considering some of the off-target Endorsements I have, it seems like they tweaked an algorithm that Netscape rejected in 1995.
Witness: My LI Profile mentions ‘Google Analytics’ once, in the line “good working knowledge of Google Analytics” that appears half way throug
h one of the “Experience” sections.
But, if you check my Endorsement stats, you’d think I was an Analytics guru. Second only to SEO, (which is also over-represented) my Analytics endorsements outnumber those for skills in which I am far more experienced and accomplished, including ‘Digital Marketing’, ‘Copywriting’ and ‘Social Media Marketing’, which are also mentioned in my Profile far more often and prominently than Analytics,
Now I get messages requesting Analytics and SEO services that, while my experience with them bears mentioning in my Profile, I’m not really qualified to give.
Making Endorsements easier to give must have increased traffic and interaction on LI, but it also removed any credibility Endorsements carried and created the potential for viewers of your Profile to misunderstand your skill set.