Jeff Browning, networking company F5's senior director of online strategy, wondered whether LinkedIn was counting on that mindset.
"LinkedIn has established itself as a professional social network that has very quickly become an HR platform," said Browning. "It has become very much about hiring and recommendations and career building, so I think the whole approach to endorsements provides a way for users to engage. I ultimately think it will feed into a larger gamification strategy. I think what will happen is it will probably be a concept that LinkedIn will develop and build in other ways, building a credit or scoring system that can be used by people as a global profile piece."
Brown also wondered whether LinkedIn Endorsements could be paving the way for new advertising or marketing models for the platform.
Whatever LinkedIn's business goals, for users, it will be the quality of endorsements--not the quantity--that ultimately matter, according to Stybel: "The key will be the quality of the people endorsing you, not the number. Is someone with 500 links 100% better connected than another person with 250 links? Of course not! Quality counts more than numbers."
That qualitative nature is what sets Endorsements apart from the more quantitative Klout, according to Deblauwe. "Klout is pulling in your exposure and mentions across the Web, including social media, not just skills," he said. "Klout is a very interesting way to draw attention, while LinkedIn is important because the skills endorsements there represent support of specific skills of people you have worked with."
Of course, people can also give props to their colleagues through LinkedIn's Recommendations feature. But, let's face it: With Recommendations, you're expected to be thoughtful, to provide relevant detail about a person's experience, and to actually write sentences. With Endorsements, you simply click a button to give kudos to a colleague. "It's a pretty low bar," said F5's Browning.
Deblauwe sees Endorsements not as a replacement for but a complement to Recommendations, and notes the importance of reciprocity. "I think reciprocation is very important," he said. "Just like Recommendations, if someone takes the time to support your expertise, you should return the favor. Growing your professional credibility is largely based on how well you support and prop up others, not just yourself."
What do you think about LinkedIn Endorsements? Will you take the time to endorse your connections? Will you feel obligated to endorse those who have endorsed you? Please let us know in the comments section below.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.
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