Networking

04:13 PM
David Nour
David Nour
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea

LinkedIn's nagging automated requests to endorse others' skills are too generic to be useful to anyone. You're better served by staying in personal touch with your network.

Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows
Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Have you noticed that every time you log into LinkedIn now it keeps pestering you to endorse the skills and knowledge of your network? It's another classic case of LinkedIn trying to abdicate the care and nurturing of your relationships to technology -- and it doesn't work.

I've been a LinkedIn Business Pro user for several years and have written extensively about all that's positive about the site's focus to become the prevailing professional social networking platform. But when you have a hammer, you begin to treat every challenge or an opportunity as a nail.

LinkedIn launched Skills and Knowledge as a functionality that few knew about, much less paid attention to or used. After all, shouldn't you be able to ascertain my skills or knowledge from my bio, background, experiences, education and recommendations?

[ Have you adapted to LinkedIn's changes? Read 5 Ways To Improve Your New LinkedIn Profile .]

By asking you to endorse the skills and knowledge of your network, it is trying to bring this new functionality front and center. Here are three fundamental problems with that:

1. Contextual Irrelevance.

Let's say I worked with Steve on a social media strategy-consulting project and am aware of his specific skills or knowledge around an influencer campaign. But what LinkedIn keeps prompting me to endorse is his graphic design skills, which I wasn't privy to in our work together and not really relevant to the context of our relationship. Does that mean that I don't have a relationship with Steve or can't endorse a skill or knowledge of his? No. It simply means that LinkedIn is taking our relationship out of context. Can I keep scrolling for his other skills? Sure, but who has the time or patience?

2. Degrees Of Competency.

Let's further say that Steve did a decent job on the above consulting engagement, but there were some areas where I thought he should have been more knowledgeable or competent. There is no way to rate the degrees of his competency or recommend areas for Steve to grow professionally in this area. Any competency metric I've always seen or have found effective gives you a range, such as a 1 to 10 or 4 out of 5 stars.

3. Weighted Endorsements. Did I work with Steve only once and experience his skills or knowledge in a very limited scope, or have we worked together on multiple projects, allowing me to see him deliver results across a spectrum of challenging scenarios? Anyone who has ever endorsed someone else knows that not all endorsements are created equal. There is no way for me to comment on each endorsement or give it more credence or credibility as to the frequency of our interactions.


Are these the endorsements you really want?

I don't know about you, but here are two other problems that give me quid pro quo heartburn:

-- I feel guilty for all these people and their skills that pop up that I have no idea they were capable of (am I the only one who keeps asking "seriously?" to many of these skills or knowledge?) Does that mean I don't really know them that well or have a strong enough relationship with them to be connected on LinkedIn? Or that they've done a poor job in branding themselves for me to realize that particular knowledge or skill was a part of their repertoire?

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
CmonMann
50%
50%
CmonMann,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 2:47:56 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
i endorse you for blog writing
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 8:19:53 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Thanks for the witty reply. Don't forget to also endorse my 4,782 other skills, knowledge, and experience that you'll be prompted to endorse every time you eat, drink, type an email, or God forbid, look up anyone's profile on LinkedIn! Ridiculous!
smetzger
50%
50%
smetzger,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/7/2013 | 5:41:43 AM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I agree completely. I thought it was interesting that people were endorsing me, but now it happens so much it doesn't mean a lot...and endorsing everyone for everything on the home page- its pretty meaningless
MyW0r1d
50%
50%
MyW0r1d,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 3:02:06 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
"Can I keep scrolling for his other skills? Sure, but who has the time or patience?" The same person who says they will maintain personal contact will make the time if it is important to that contact. You don't take the time for this, you very likely lack the drive to maintain personal contact and are simply blowing smoke.
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 8:23:18 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Not sure I understand your comment? Are you telling me that you'll sit there and keep scrolling through all of those endorsement requests?!? Seriously!? I'd rather invest that time and effort visiting in person with my relationships or calling them to check in and see how they're doing. I think the skills and knowledge section of LinkedIn is a useless feature and a waste of time.
RW0r1d
50%
50%
RW0r1d,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2013 | 8:36:23 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Absolutely not. I don't troll through endorsement requests, do not endorse someone I do not know well, and will not endorse anyone who has added their own endless list of skills (jack of trades, master of none). I am saying that if I know someone and they have indicated it is important to them, I endorse them. But, I also "maintain" my contacts and do not keep transient contacts which may have been picked up in trade shows or similar venues (someone I will not likely maintain as a long term acquaintance). Something many who employ terminology such as "I haven't the time or patience" rarely do. As a function, I think it has merit however it may have been implemented in manner that left it too open to manipulation.
lgarey@techweb.com
50%
50%
lgarey@techweb.com,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 4:42:29 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Agree 100%, I find this functionality highly annoying. I've started ignoring it; hopefully others will as well, at which point it will go away. Lorna Garey, IW Reports
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 8:26:08 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
What I don't understand is why LinkedIn keep killing really good functions like linking my WordPress blog to my profile so others could hear my voice, as well as see my profile? Or as of Jan. 31, they killed the Questions & Answers section!!

News Flash: Dear LinkedIn Product Roadmap Gurus: Add more useless features that I don't care about and take away the ones I really like and I'll soon find another platform to connect with my relationships!
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 5:11:37 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
"Quid pro quo heartburn" is an apt way to describe how many people have reacted to this feature. While I appreciate that contacts have taken the time to endorse me, I can't keep up with the string of notifications on this. And in the end, I find the personal recommendations on LinkedIn to be much more instructive.
Laurianne McLaughlin
InformationWeek
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 8:28:09 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Good to know I'm not the only one feeling this way! All they had to do was look at how eBay allows buyers & sellers leave feedback or Angie's list allows you to rate the service provider you just worked with. A simple rating system with limited text would have sufficed.
Ron LaVine
50%
50%
Ron LaVine,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 6:21:11 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I also agree and there appears to be no way to turn it off.
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 8:30:27 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Ron - here is the challenge: what's the alternative? What other equally prevalent social networking platform do you know of that business professionals will gravitate toward? Ning? Xing? The other challenge is the switching cost - are you really going to invest time & effort to rebuild a profile and invite all of your professional network to yet another social network? At what point do we reach a diminishing return?
DataJanitor
50%
50%
DataJanitor,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 6:24:48 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
How is this different than any recommendation or face-to-face endorsement? The rule is always: "Consider the source" when deciding how much weight to give to an endorsement.
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 8:33:50 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I think it's dramatically different. The recommendation or face to face endorsement have real time context about them. "Tom, meet DataJanitor (sorry - don't know your real name). He's fantastic in helping you get the cobwebs off your ugly data sets. He build an incredibly fast & agile datawarehouse for our entire team and we couldn't have done it without him!" You know me, that conversation or even letter is in real time, and I've given you more texture. The constant pestering of LinkedIn for me to endorse your meta tag skills isn't anything similar to the simple example I've provided above.
Anne Stahl
50%
50%
Anne Stahl,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 6:30:53 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Great article! Something that has been bothering me too. However, I do believe that the skills and endorsement idea is a good one, it's just been implemented badly. Encouraging users to share an insight into another person's skills as they have experienced them, is very helpful. But rather than an endorsement, there should be a rating system - so you can also negatively rate a skill. This way, users have to think about who they endorse for what.

After all, if we all were to ignore the nags when LinkedIN is asking us to endorse irrelevant connections or skills, but to actively participate when we DO know if someone has that skill, that could provide a very good insight into that person's expertise.
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 8:34:43 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Anne - great point & agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for your comment.
Percy Tzelnic
50%
50%
Percy Tzelnic,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 6:32:51 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Thanks for picking up this cause...
The other side of it is the uncessant flow of notification about people who endorsed me... Courtesy requires to thank them, for whay I really think is an empty good will gesture -- significant time sync...
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 10:40:18 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Percy - great point. I got tired of all of those, so I've turned them off under settings. Don't know about you, but I get some 300 emails a day and the last thing I need are all the notifications from the people who have (often blindly!) endorsed me!
godfather of MDM
50%
50%
godfather of MDM,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 6:46:13 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Beats the heck out of Klout in certain measures .... crowdsourcing your relevance on a topic .... much more democratic in that sense

--Aaron
Cara Latham
50%
50%
Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 2:11:32 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I agree that crowdsourcing one's relevance on a topic is a much better option than relying on keywords, RTs and other non-personal indicators, but I also think this crowdsourcing could be much more effectively implemented. Perhaps only those who have worked with you can endorse you for skills related to a particular job? Say, for instance, Steve worked with me during my tenure at my previous job. Steve would hypothetically only be able to endorse me for skills at that particular job, while my current co-workers could endorse me for my work now. I think this could probably be a reasonably implemented feature requiring only a little bit of adjustment.
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 10:42:20 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I'm with Cara! What's badly missing from the LinkedIn endorsements are context of how we worked together or what was your direct experience in us creating some kind of a result. The other challenge here is people confuse vibration with forward motion. Just because we worked together on something, does not mean I'm an "expert" in that area!! Which is my biggest heartburn with Klout!
MightyCasey
50%
50%
MightyCasey,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 7:22:11 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I'll endorse you for communication clarity! Using the word "annoying" with regard to the incessant reminders to endorse people makes it close to a processed-pork-products level of meaninglessness. Recommendations rock. Endorsements? Not even close ...
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 10:43:23 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
MightyCasey - would you believe English is not my native language and even after 30 years, an ongoing learning edge? :-) Thank you for the endorsement...
Jonathan_Camhi
50%
50%
Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 9:07:30 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
You're spot on when you say that a good bio and resume should tell the reader what kinds of skills you have and your areas of expertise. The whole knowledge and skills section is a waste.
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 10:45:38 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
LinkedIn is attempting to make the site more than a destination! For them to succeed in the long run, it has to become a platform. I thought they were on their way with the apps but they pulled the plug on the whole thing. I'm confused as to where they're going next...
JimC
50%
50%
JimC,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 2:19:53 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I agree with Jonathan Camhi, one of the first people to comment on this blog. Your bio, via LinkedIn, should paint an accurate picture of who you are -- confirmed by your LinkedIn references. People I barely know have endorsed me for some skills. I can't reciprocate because I'm unsure if they have any exposure to certain areas of expertise. This recent stumble by LinkedIn might actually cause problems in that people who freely hand out endorsements feel snubbed when "one hand doesn't wash the other."
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 10:46:49 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Jim - huge point. Sociologist tell us that when we engage others, on or off line, we give a little, they take, they judge, they give a little, etc. It's this natural give & take and if they feel snubbed, would they then go elsewhere?
bknabe
50%
50%
bknabe,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 4:34:21 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I hate LinkedIn endorsements. I've received endorsements for skills people assume I have. I may have a basic, general knowledge, but I consider endorsements to mean a certain level has been achieved, and in some of these skills, I haven't reached that level, and probably never will because I so rarely need of them.
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 10:47:52 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I actually removed a whole lot of skills I began with to the bare minimums I thought I have a core strength in, and other people added other skills on their own! Go figure out that one!
NJ Mike
50%
50%
NJ Mike,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 6:27:39 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
It seems whenever anybody endorses me on LinkedIn, I get about 35 emails telling me about it.
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 10:48:43 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
NJ Mike - You have been endorsed by your mailman for taking your mail in your house everyday. Congratulations! :-)
pwndecaf
50%
50%
pwndecaf,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 8:20:30 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Absolutely agree - it is a big step down for LinkedIn. What were they thinking?
pwndecaf
50%
50%
pwndecaf,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 8:25:03 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I'm sure you deserve it (how would I know?) but perhaps people were looking to see if they could figure out how you rigged the system to get all those recommendations.
steviethek
50%
50%
steviethek,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 8:43:51 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Which is worse, this endorsement thing or the "Open Networkers" who "add" people regardless of their experience with the person? What's the point of that?
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 10:44:44 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Good question. Again, if LinkedIn used anything like the eBay "Leave Feedback", you could simply rate it as positive, neutral, or negative and elaborate using stars (1-5) for specific attributes. I actually had an employee who I fired for incompetence ask me for a LinkedIn Recommendation!! Really?!?
David Nour
50%
50%
David Nour,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/6/2013 | 10:51:43 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
James - I appreciate your perspective, but I disagree. This is a case of crowd sourcing gone a muck. 30-40 people could be all over the map about the relevance, and the spectrum of my knowledge in that area. LinkedIn treats all of them the same and you and I both know that's never the case. If you go back and read my original article, the context of that endorsement is missing. I equate this to brainstorming where everyone has to contribute something, 90% of which ideas are garbage at best! I'm telling you from personal experience that people have endorsed me for skills where they have ZERO first hand knowledge of my ability to actually perform that skill - forget to what level of competence!
ClarkExecSearch
50%
50%
ClarkExecSearch,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/7/2013 | 3:11:56 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I agree with this blog post whole heartedly. LinkedIn endorsements are a waste of time. And I thank you for letting me know I can turn off the emails coming in from people who are endorsing me. Silly. I recruit scientists and they are endorsing me for scientific skills I don't even have.
jbonne927
50%
50%
jbonne927,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2013 | 6:05:15 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I disagree with you on the value of Linkedin endorsements. As CEO and VP of a few high tech companies and a people manager for over 40 years IG«÷ve hired and fired a lot of people.

When hiring I like everyone else sorts through the resumes on Linkedin or from other sources. I make a short list of candidates. Most people lie on their resumes and it helps to have other people validate someone's skills. We all know that some of these are bogus. No one hires on the basis of this endorsement anyway but it does add information to the resume that helps when making up the short list of candidates even if there are some bogus endorsements in there. Before you hire someone you check all this out anyway with telephone interviews and other sources.

In, addition, people leave off their resume certain skills that might be relevant to a current or future project. The endorsements help because sometimes hidden are skills are mentioned that might be valuable to the company and the person may make the short list because of it. I personally probe deeply into current and candidates backgrounds to find these hidden skills and knowledge that would be helpful to probe into the feasibility of a potential product, service, or project management project that I have in the back of my mind.

For example, in one of my positions, I discovered that one of my PhD employees had experience in the medical field as a graduate student.but it was only casually mentioned in his resume and no one knew about it. It was my personal view a EVP that we needed to get into some vertical markets and the healthcare field might be a candidate. Because of his experience, I put him in charge of investigating the market and technology required. Now that effort has become the basis of a new thriving healthcare spinoff company with over 200 employees and growing rapidly.

I might have found this hidden skill if I had endorsements such as those revealed in Linkedin. There are many other reasons why these endorsements are a good idea even if some are bogus.

I donG«÷t think and endorser should make an endorsement if the endorser doesnG«÷t really know if the endorsee has the skill or experience.


Melanie Rodier
50%
50%
Melanie Rodier,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2013 | 5:04:40 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
I think people take endorsements too seriously. I see it more as a 'like' button on Facebook. People on social networks like to click on things other people suggest they can 'like'. In this case, a skill. True, it would be more useful if endorsements were placed in context. Then again, I see a LinkedIn endorsement as just a general validation that a person is, indeed, a sales professional, journalist, financial advisor, etc, and has certain general skills in this area. Resumes and bios are where you should really go into more detail about what these skills are. Recruiters shouldn't be relying on someone's friends or casual business contacts to tell them what skills a professional has.
Income True
50%
50%
Income True,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/4/2013 | 5:42:45 AM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
All I know is David Carpin has hundreds of endorsements for all his skills. Go to the people's search on Linkedin and perform a search for of his skills listed below and he comes up somewhere on the first search page for any of these skills. Try it yourself if you want to.

99+Test Management
99+User Acceptance Testing
99+Quality Center
99+Test Strategy
99+Testing
99+System Testing
99+Test Planning
99+Program Management
99+Business Analysis
99+Solvency II

http://www.linkedin.com/inbox/...

Open endorsers are Open Networkers - only they have more skills.

Deb Donston-Miller
50%
50%
Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/7/2013 | 1:44:39 AM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
You don't?

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
velotracy
50%
50%
velotracy,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/5/2013 | 1:28:28 PM
re: Why Soliciting LinkedIn Endorsements Is A Bad Idea
Although I agree that soliciting endorsements is a bad idea, I disagree with most of the commenters and with many of David's arguments. If interpreted properly, endorsements can be very useful as a quick indicator of a person's skill set as viewed by a large population.

Endorsements are not like recommendations and shouldn't be used that way. Recommendations on LinkedIn provide the contextual relevancy, degrees of competency, etc., that David and others seek. But endorsements provide a different strength, a much larger population of endorsers. The strength of endorsements is in the wisdom of crowds, which relies on large populations and frictionless participation. I wrote about endorsements and the wisdom of crowds here: http://tracyearles.blogspot.co....

Tracy
Slideshows
Cartoon
Audio Interviews
Archived Audio Interviews
Jeremy Schulman, founder of Schprockits, a network automation startup operating in stealth mode, joins us to explore whether networking professionals all need to learn programming in order to remain employed.
White Papers
Register for Network Computing Newsletters
Current Issue
2014 Private Cloud Survey
2014 Private Cloud Survey
Respondents are on a roll: 53% brought their private clouds from concept to production in less than one year, and 60% ≠extend their clouds across multiple datacenters. But expertise is scarce, with 51% saying acquiring skilled employees is a roadblock.
Video
Twitter Feed