LinkedIn Endorsements: Do's And Don'ts - InformationWeek

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LinkedIn Endorsements: Do's And Don'ts

Love them or hate them, you can't just ignore LinkedIn Endorsements. Here's expert advice on how to deal with social's new head-scratcher.

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Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows
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When LinkedIn Endorsements were rolled out last fall, they were greeted with a collective "Huh?" followed by widespread disdain. The "Huh?" was a response to the surprise nature of the feature -- no one saw it coming, and LinkedIn didn't do a lot to explain it. The disdain was -- and is -- a response to the casualness with which Endorsements seem to be granted. But are Endorsements all bad? We set out to determine how you can make a professional networking silk purse out of what many consider a sow's ear.

LinkedIn Endorsements sneaked up on people. Many users found out about them only when notifications that they had been endorsed starting showing up in their email, and there was a great deal of confusion about what exactly Endorsements were.

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."

[ Want more LinkedIn tips? Read 5 Ways To Improve Your New LinkedIn Profile. ]

It's that "one-click" piece that many people have a problem with. They think Endorsements have little to no real meaning, and have even come to be abused by people who are serial-endorsing without really knowing anything about the skills of the people they are endorsing.

A story I wrote at the time Endorsements was first unveiled received many comments along these lines, including this one: "The bigger issue is that since this 'feature' has come on line I've been receiving endorsements from people who I haven't spoken with in years, endorsing me for skills that they either would not have known I had or were secondary to the skills that I was known for and demonstrated when we worked together," wrote tv22. "Just today I received one for a skill that I use now, but not so much before, from a guy I haven't spoken with in at least 10 years. It is already becoming noise."

If anything, the feelings about Endorsements have only grown more negative, as evidenced by the dozens of comments my colleague David Nour received on his recent story, "Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is a Bad Idea."

Most experts would agree with David that it is a bad idea to actively solicit LinkedIn Endorsements. Indeed, the "I'll endorse you if you endorse me" environment that has grown up around the feature is what has turned many people off. With all that said, there are ways in which Endorsements can be used to build your brand and promote better communications with your contacts. And, having no endorsements on your profile can look bad. Indeed, said Wayne Breitbarth, a LinkedIn speaker and trainer and author of "The Power Formula for LinkedIn," you have to have them: "Like it or not, LinkedIn is a beauty contest -- if you have only a few Endorsements, you're the frump in the one-piece, and your competitor with hundreds of endorsements is sporting the hottest bikini on the stage."

Brandon Lewin, VP of business development at Image Perspective, believes Endorsements can be used to gauge how others see you -- and your strengths -- professionally. "I have found that LinkedIn Endorsements is best used for one big purpose: that is, for insight on your personal brand positioning," said Lewin. "How do people see you as a professional? Have the efforts you have put forth to position yourself as a certain specialist paid off? Those are questions you should ask, and those are questions LinkedIn Endorsements can answer for you. If the answer is no, then you can begin to make a push toward positioning yourself as the expert you want to be seen as."

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User Rank: Apprentice
3/20/2013 | 7:35:58 PM
re: LinkedIn Endorsements: Do's And Don'ts
Are you sure these "endorsements" are legit? Then do I receive endorsements from strangers, acquaintances and, in fact, one particular person had repeated "endorsed" me - like 10+ times. I was thinking that these "endorsements" were accidentally triggered, so I get very careful when I view other people's profiles, for fear that I had endorsed them inadvertently (embarrassingly).
User Rank: Apprentice
2/28/2013 | 2:39:34 AM
re: LinkedIn Endorsements: Do's And Don'ts
Very valid points about using LinkedIn Endorsements to test your branding. It's relevant to see what skills others are endorsing you for. If they don't match the skills you're trying to sell, you have some work to do.
User Rank: Apprentice
2/26/2013 | 8:53:43 PM
re: LinkedIn Endorsements: Do's And Don'ts
Several times a week I get requests to endorse complete strangers. It is becoming a total nuisance. I was told you need 500 endorsements to be considered serious about networking. I guess I'll never make it...I only have 67. However, 95% of my work comes directly from referrals from existing clients. I'm better off spending my time networking with them.

Frank H. Keis
Developing Visions, Inc.
Deb Donston-Miller
Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/26/2013 | 1:13:10 AM
re: LinkedIn Endorsements: Do's And Don'ts
Thank you for your comment. Wow, that would really change the game, wouldn't it?

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
Income True
Income True,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/25/2013 | 7:58:13 PM
re: LinkedIn Endorsements: Do's And Don'ts
Linkedin is Finally Giving SEO Weight to Skill Endorsements:

I'm not quite sure how this works yet, but Linkedin is beginning to give some SEO weight to skill endorsement keywords now.

For example, I went to "people" on my Linkedin home page and typed in "System Testing." David Carpin (open endorser) came up #3 on the first page of Linkedin's people search for "System Testing," yet those words are not listed anywhere else on his profile, except as a skill.

I did the same for "Property & Casualty Insurance" using Linkedin's people search. Open endorser, "Mary (Wassink) Ganis" comes up #6. for "Property & Casualty Insurance." These keywords are listed as one of her skills, yet those words do not appear anywhere else on her profile.

Also what I found interesting, is that listing skills that are not listed as Linkedin skills per se, are still found as well. This could be very helpful if something is a popular keyword at Google Adwords, but isn't yet listed as a skill using Linkedin's Skill & Expertise tool.

I listed "Meaningful Specifics" as a skill and my profile comes up number one, although I did not find that skill using Linkedin's Skill & Expertise tool, so use Google's ad word tool to look for keywords also.

Kind regards,

Ed Brophy
Open Endorser Group

"Open Endorsers are Open Networkers...only they have more skills."
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