My love/hate relationship with LinkedIn endorsments

Lovehaterelationship

Perceived value or real?

Ask anyone who knows me how I feel about LinkedIn endorsements and they’ll tell you I love them also hate them. My ambivalent feelings have something to do with their value, which other LinkedIn members also question. Are endorsements perceived value or real? This is the question.

Perceived value. I love that term and it has stuck with me. It’s like buying a grapefruit at an expensive grocery store believing it has more value than a grapefruit at a less expensive grocery store.

In the end, the grapefruit from the less expensive store is tastier, juicier, and more delectable. Still the more expensive grapefruit’s perceived value tricks our minds into thinking it tastes better.

LinkedIn endorsements’ perceived value

Someone who has many endorsements is perceived as being strong in those skills. For example, I visit one of my valued connection’s profile during my LinkedIn workshop and show the attendees that every bleeping skill he has has 99+ endorsements. (Partial list below.)

kevins-endorsements

 

I asked him one day how he had accumulated so many endorsements. With a smirk on his face he told me it was because he has a lot of friends. He also said that he hates endorsements. “Bro,” I told him, “give me some of your endorsements.”

Endorsements were introduced by LinkedIn to increase engagement, plain and simple. With a click of the mouse you can endorse someone for a skill you’ve never witnessed them perform.

While some argue that what their connections write on their profile is proof enough, you and I both know that words can be embellished all for the sake of marketing oneself. So this reasoning for me is faulty.

LinkedIn is screwing with people’s minds by suggesting which of your connections’ skills you should endorse. LinkedIn does this occasionally when you visit someone’s profile and also offers suggestions of skills to endorse on your profile.

I once asked one of my colleagues why he endorsed me for some skills I didn’t want endorsed, and he told me, “Because LinkedIn told me to.” This is LinkedIn screwing with people’s minds. LinkedIn is turning us into lemmings who are running off the proverbial cliff.

LinkedIn endorsements’ real value

But wait, you’re thinking, if you’re opposed to endorsements, why are you making such a fuss over them? This is a fair question. It’s because endorsements can have real value if they’re awarded the proper ways.

The first of two ways is by seeing your connections actually perform the skills they have listed on their profile. Remember my valued connection who joked that he was endorsed for his skills because he has a lot of friends? Truth be told, I’ve seen him perform a number of those skills and he deserves to be endorsed for them.

The second proper way to endorse someone is by trusting them. Based on how the recipient lists their skills, this is giving you a clue as how to proceed. The skills I have listed on my profile, for instance, have been carefully selected to reflect my value, not perceived value. (Read my post on how to help people endorse you.)


In closing, LinkedIn endorsements will only provide value when they are dealt out accurately. This can be accomplished if visitors have seen recipients demonstrate the skills for which they’re endorsed or, as I’ve said, trust them to arrange their skills to truly represent their strengths.

When this happens, I will have faith in LinkedIn endorsements. But if endorsers continue to follow LinkedIn’s suggestions, or endorse people by the highest number of endorsements, I see them as perceived value.

Photo: Flickr, Mauricio Sarfati

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