Sunday, March 10, 2013

LinkedIn Endorsements: A Little Sanity, Please!

LinkedIn has become an important tool for professionals, serving as a means for networking, managing contacts, and establishing groups with common interests (and communicating with them). LinkedIn now has a news aggregation service that is very useful for keeping informed. What's not to like?

One "improvement" that LinkedIn added last year is the ability to endorse connections. Although it is nice to receive an endorsement, some people have gone a bit overboard. I have received endorsements from people I know only as a connection on LinkedIn and who have not met with me personally and who have no knowledge of what I do outside of the virtual world. I have also received endorsements in areas that are not part of my practice. Such endorsements are not helpful.

Here are my thoughts on LinkedIn and endorsements: 

(1) I have a pretty low bar for connecting with someone on LinkedIn. If someone has a connection with me or a common interest, I tend to accept connections. To me, it is the virtual equivalent of meeting someone at a Chamber of Commerce networking event and exchanging business cards. (On the other hand, I will not accept connections from someone I do not know unless they have a logical connection to my business or a clearly stated reason for wanting to connect).

(2) If our only connection is in the virtual world, and we have not done business together, have not represented opposing parties in a case or transaction, or otherwise have no other meaningful connection (such as being classmates), then please do not endorse me or expect an endorsement. Again, I think an analogy to the real world is appropriate: If we have just exchanged business cards at a networking event, do you have any basis for recommending me? Do I have any basis for recommending you? The answer is obvious.

(3) For endorsements, less is more. If you endorse everyone, then what is your endorsement really worth? 

LinkedIn does allow you to manage endorsements. (Instructions can be found by accessing help on LinkedIn). This morning, I pruned my endorsements considerably, both as to subject matter and the endorsers. If an endorsement was eliminated, it does not mean that the thought was not appreciated, it just means that it does not fit within the framework outlined above.