I was surprised by how little people think of the fairly new feature in LinkedIn – the ‘endorsement’ – when I tweeted about liking the function recently.
My comment sparked some interesting discussion and I thought I’d share some ideas in favour of endorsements here.
1. It feels good to give positive feedback
In our working lives, we don’t often take time to tell people their strengths and what we admire them for. Endorsements make doing that very easy and so make the world a little bit more positive! As somebody’s granddad might have said once: ‘it’s nice to be nice’.
Phil Murphy shared a really funny post, ‘If Linkedin endorsements were honest’. This made me laugh but, to be serious for a second, online is rarely a good place to give constructive negative feedback: I don’t want to know how many people would endorse me for ‘waffling on’ or ‘being the office scruff’. The positivity in endorsements (much like the fact that there isn’t a Facebook ‘dislike’ button’) is welcome I think. There are enough trolls on th’internet as it is.
2. It’s fun and it reminds me of Kitten War
This was the comment that prompted this post:
Decided I really like the #Linkedin endorsements thing. It’s fun to vote on what things people are good at and it reminds me of KittenWar.
— Helen Reynolds (@HelReynolds) March 26, 2013
Remember Kitten War? It lets you rate nice kittens – if you like the cat picture, you click on it to say it won. I don’t know the psychological reason for why it’s fun but it is. It must be something to do with the satisfaction of having my opinion shaping overall popularity. It a kind of crowdsourcing.
I like doing this game with partners, peers and colleagues – LinkedIn asks me ‘do you rate [Insert connection name] in this skill? I click ‘endorse’ if I do.
3. You discover unexpected people who respect your work
We don’t always have time to evaluate our professional strengths and it’s all too easy to focus on areas that are our weak points. When I get an endorsement from somebody I admire it gives me a little boost. ‘Hooray! This person thinks I’m OK.’ If their motivation is anything other than wanting to publicly support me then more fool them. I’m taking the compliment anyway.
I’m totally with Mark Lowe:
I only ever endorse people for skills that I know they have and that I could provide evidence of if I were ever challenged about it.
And a great point was made by Nick Lewis:
“I’m not quite sure what an endorsement actually signifies. Does it mean that the person who is endorsing has had direct experience of that particular skill of the endorsed, or does it just mean that they know they market themselves as having it? If it is the former, isn’t a full-blown recommendation more appropriate?”
It’d be a shame if endorsements overtook real recommendations. Often, though, I don’t have the time or much to say other than a general thumbs up – recommendations have more weight but take time and effort to craft.
I do agree that it would be weird to endorse someone without knowing they’re good at what you’re endorsing them for. Although in the case of ‘blogging’ and ‘social media’ it is possible to know someone is good without having worked with them – the evidence is in your experience of reading & enjoying their work online.
4. It’ll get better
Like lots of tools that increase online influence, it can be gamed. But I wouldn’t want to measure a tool’s effectiveness too much on the handyman/woman using it. Stupid/inauthentic people use things stupidly/badly. But we are reasonable and we are free to give the people we know and rate a quick show of backing.
I’m sure, much like influence measuring sites like Klout and Peerindex do, the functionality of LinkedIn endorsements will evolve and get better. Or just be pulled.
5. Some people will value it in giving you an edge
This point from Jay Perkins is spot on:
“I think it definitely has some value, if a business was considering getting in touch with two professionals and one had plenty of endorsements while the other had none or many blank ones, most would opt for the one who ‘appeared’ more successful. That’s not to say they are an accurate measure of ability however.”
Like it or not, popularity will be a factor in some employer’s choice of candidate or commissioning. LinkedIn endorsements might be a small factor you can use to prove you have a lot of support and goodwill from people who are interested in your work.
Thanks to those who chatted about this with me:
Adrian, Jay Perkins, Mark, Mark Lowe, Nick Lewis, Phil Murphy, Russell Britton, Sarah Jennings, Sian Morgan, Tim Roberts.
I’d love to hear more about what people think about endorsements.
[Photo by TheSeafarer]
Thanks for the mention Helen, love the post as well as the discussion! You’re spot on with the difference in a recommendation and endorsement comparison – they both require different levels of effort and suit different levels of… well… endorsement 🙂
Thanks Jay for joining in and sharing your words of wisdom 🙂
Huge agreement with the exception of Kitten War, I’m afraid… Genuinely endorsing & recommending people without expectation of reward is rewarding in itself. Making that process easy has merit but making it into a “game” is perhaps why we see/hear so many random endorsements on LinkedIn…
So my question is, has making it easy to endorse on LinkedIn damaged the reputation of LinkedIn Endorsements?
BTW you might also like this ‘sparky’ little blog debate on endorsements kicked off by @aliinsona here…
Glad you liked my post on honest endorsements. (http://cadince.com/if-linkedin-endorsements-were-honest/). Nobody has endorsed me for comedy yet though, I’m still waiting.
I do agree with your comments about endorsements having some value, but I think they’re a symptom of trying to solicit engagement from people in our ADHD world. It is so much easier to ask for a 1 second “click” on an endorsement than to get people to write a proper recommendation. LinkedIn even makes it so easy as to “suggest” endorsements for you and offers the further time saving feature of an “endorse all” button so as to save you from having to click more than once.
Very interesting post. Haven’t got into using Linked-In as a project yet, but it’s certainly something we’re looking into and may be something we take on depending on feedback from our information service survey. Thanks for the thought-provoking read!