Thursday, February 14, 2013

LinkedIn Endorsements - A Success or Failure?

LinkedIn added a feature that allows people to readily endorse other people.

This Endorsement feature is NOT to be confused with LinkedIn Recommendations, though it is easy to confuse in name--not the function.

What are LinkedIn Recommendations?

LinkedIn Recommendations are when people write out complete sentences that explain why they would recommend or endorse someone else.  These are listed within a current or previous position we listed on our LinkedIn Profile.

Example-LinkedIn Recommendation: I recommend Joe Blow Smith to handle your plumbing issues.  He was courteous and on time for his appointment with me.  He explained what I needed and told me things that could wait and things that could not, and he outlined why in each case.  Plus, he did not charge me and arm and a leg.  If you live in the Anytown Area, I suggest that you call Joe to handle your plumbing.

What are LinkedIn Endorsements?

This is newer than LinkedIn Recommendations.  LinkedIn Endorsements focus on individual skills within the "Skills and Expertise: section within LinkedIn.  For each skill you have, I can simply click on a graphical button indicating that, YES, I endorse that you have THAT specific skill.

Example-LinkedIn Endorsement:In the example below, if I endorse this person's ability to do a specific skill, then I would click on the "+" sign beside the listed skill.

LinkedIn Endorsements allow people to select individual skills they endorse we have.

I contend that LinkedIn Endorsements are BOTH a failure AND a success.

Why LinkedIn Endorsements are a Success

LinkedIn Endorsements might be considered a success by many, because many people do not like to write.  Most people prefer clicking over writing, especially when the skill categories are provided for you.

Each time someone endorses me, I get an email from LinkedIn with their name attached.  This helps makes us think of a person an additional time.  Likewise, if we want to make a person think of us, we can simply "endorse" them for a skill.  They will get an email from LinkedIn with OUR name on it.

Plus, for many of us, this triggers a near-automatic response to "return the favor."  So we tend to look at their profile (another visit to LinkedIn), and we search for a skill (if not more than one skill) we can endorse for that person.

Good Benefit of LinkedIn Endorsements: Social engagement between LinkedIn members increase, and the number of visits to LinkedIn increases.  (This is really good for the company, as it drives up the value of LinkedIn Advertisements that they sell.)

Why LinkedIn Endorsements are a Failure

Failure is probably a strong word, but I do not see LinkedIn Endorsements making LinkedIn better in the long run.

Because it is SO easy to "endorse" people's skills, there is not anything close to a standard that we can apply to decide whether we should endorse that person's skill(s).

In fact, I have a "skill" that is listed, and several people have endorsed me as having that skill.  The problem is that I would not endorse THAT specific skill for myself.  I don't have that skill, but a lot of people who are NOT qualified to determine whether I have that skill identify that I have that skill.

Downside-LinkedIn Endorsements: This cheapens the quality of the information contained within the LinkedIn database system.  This is important, because that data is what makes LinkedIn so valuable.

This means that I cannot be sure what skills other people have endorsed are real or not.  If I "know" the answer, I probably do not need other people to tell me (via their endorsements).  Since there are not any words to describe how the "endorser" knows we have that skill, we don't have a way of knowing the legitimacy of that endorsement.

For all we know, that "endorsement" was politically motivated on a social level.

Therefore, depending upon the objective LinkedIn had when they created this opportunity for people to endorse each other so easily...and without any explanation, LinkedIn Endorsements are each good and bad.

My Prediction: LinkedIn Endorsements will be removed or redone within a few years.

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