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David Nour
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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
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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?

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CmonMann
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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
MyW0r1d
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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.
lgarey@techweb.com
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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
Laurianne
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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
Ron LaVine
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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.
DataJanitor
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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.
Anne Stahl
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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.
Percy Tzelnic
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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...
godfather of MDM
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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
MightyCasey
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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 ...
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