Not sure which skills to endorse your LinkedIn connections for; just ask

Great JobBy now the raging debate over endorsements and recommendations is subsiding; at least I hope so. I know on which side I stand. To me recommendations have more merit. They require more knowledge of the person being recommended. It also take a bit of courage to ask for them.

Endorsements, on the other hand, can require very little to no knowledge of the recipient; and one doesn’t even need to ask for them. They’re like a gift.

But this is not a post on the great Endorsement/Recommendation debate. This is a post about how to better endorse someone. This is about truth, not clicking on a skill you’ve never seen someone perform. This is about engaging with your connections. This is the answer to your worries about doing the wrong thing.

How to endorse someone the proper way.

It occurred to me one time when I wanted to endorse one of my valued connections for his skills that I knew nothing about how well he performed them. So I decided to ask him. “Greg,” I wrote, “I want to endorse you for some skills but don’t know which ones.” His reply was to endorse him for his top five (he didn’t want to be greedy). So that’s what I did.

I could have done what every other wrongful endorser does, which is to endorse him for the skills that have the most endorsements, but I wanted to be truthful…to the best of my knowledge.

What is your next move? Whenever you see that blue box that appears at the top of your profile–The one that suggests endorsing your connections–ignore it. In fact, turn off the feature that allows you to see that hideous, shameful box. This box encourages you to do exactly what many complain about, endorse people for skills you may have never witnessed.

Shutting this box off is very easy to do. Go to Skills and Endorsements section of your profile; next click on one of the pencils next to any skill; and finally deselect “Show me suggestions to endorse my connections.” By doing this you won’t be tempted to wrongfully endorse someone.

Instead you’ll have to visit your connections’ profiles to check which skills are listed, and manually write a note to them asking, “I’d like to endorse you for your five (or ten, if you’re generous) best skills. Which are they?”

But, you may contest, what if they’re not really proficient in those skills, that they only want to build up some of their other skills? You’ve got me there. I’m guessing you’ll simply have to trust them. I trusted my friend, Greg, because I’ve built an online relationship with him that has lasted over time. If I were to ask any of my other connections, I’d have to put trust in them, as well. Even if my interactions with them were limited.

How can I assist my connections to endorse me without asking?

This is something I wrote about in March of 2014. I called it 2 important hints about LinkedIn endorsements. In the post I suggest that you arrange your skills in the order in which you want your skills to be endorsed. Not by the default setting, which is the largest number of endorsements in descending order. I’ve noticed that increasingly more of my connections have taken this hint, whether they’ve heard it from me or someone else.

You can help by endorsing your connections’ skills in the way they’re organized in descending order. The way your connections arrange their skills is a refection on their brand and how they want to be known. Unfortunately many LinkedIn connections will hone in on the skills with the largest number of endorsements, which doesn’t help branding the recipients.

By theory, asking your connections how they want to be endorsed should work.

We all know how our best intentions turn out. They can work majestically, gain some traction, or crash and burn. Where one person may appreciate being asked about which skills she’d like to be endorsed for, another may feel self-conscious, maybe a little creeped out. I leave it up to you to do what you feel is best. You can continue to endorsed someone based on his greatest number of endorsements, or you can ask.

I think I’ll ASK.

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One thought on “Not sure which skills to endorse your LinkedIn connections for; just ask

  1. Jill

    Bob, this is really useful! I’m wondering about skills vs expertise. Though they are often grouped together (LinkedIn), for some profiles (i.e., Devex) we need to separate the two. I’m seeing skills as ‘what I can do’ and expertise as ‘what I know well’. I would appreciate your thoughts on how to distinguish between the two and perhaps offer a few examples. Much obliged!

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