When LinkedIn “Endorsements” were rolled out last September, they were greeted with collective surprise followed by widespread confusion. The surprise was a response to the introduction of the feature—no one saw it coming, and LinkedIn® didn’t do much to explain it. The confusion was, and is, a response to a widespread uncertainty around why and how endorsements should be given. Not to mention, if and when they should be reciprocated.
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.”
Endorsements snuck up on many people. It’s likely you first became aware of their existence after receiving an email from LinkedIn letting you know that someone had endorsed you for a skill or an area of expertise. Or, you’d visited a connection’s LinkedIn profile and noticed the bold banner asking you to endorse him or her.
To endorse someone on LinkedIn, all you do is “click” and you’re done. Unfortunately, not much more real thought goes into it. The “easy” aspect of endorsements explains why more than 500 million have already shown up on profiles; users are sending more than 10 million endorsements a day. Every time you accept an endorsement from someone, LinkedIn prompts you to endorse up to four more people.
Todd Wasserman, Mashable, sums up the phenomenon quite accurately when he calls endorsements a Facebook “Like” for business skills.
Love them or leave them, endorsements are here to stay. How exactly can you use this new feature to your advantage? Here are a few tips from my personal experience with Endorsements:
- Boost your own profile: It’s important to list those skills and expertise that are highly relevant to you. To simply have a laundry list, dilutes your talent. Keep it high level, this way you get more endorsements for those skills that are most important.
- Consider strongly whom you endorse: My network is significant, so I’m very careful not to get caught up in the quid pro quo. I will endorse my employees, partners, vendors and folks I know well. I will not endorse anyone whose work I have not experienced firsthand.
- Review who endorses you: If you have lost touch with someone and they have recently endorsed you, its a great reason to reconnect. “Thank you so much for the endorsement. I see that you are still working with XX. I would love to have a coffee and reconnect.” Also, you can use this opportunity to ask for a recommendation as well.
- Stagger your endorsements: Since endorsements come up in the home feed, spread out your endorsements. I suggest limiting them to once a day or a few times a week. This way you will appear in the feed more frequently.
I’ll leave you with a couple of questions that I find helpful to ask to determine which skills to highlight for endorsements on our own profiles and how to decide which connections to choose to endorse.
- What are the strengths I have that will help me meet my employer’s or client’s objectives?
- Do you admire and respect the skills of the person you are recommending?