Most of the business professionals I know have a LinkedIn account. Recently I’ve seen a number of my LinkedIn contacts becoming much more active on the platform. That’s a good thing in my opinion as the platform is being used to distribute content, articles, ideas, as well as answering questions in areas of people’s individual expertise. But a question I received today from a good friend of mine highlighted a line that LinkedIn is toeing if not crossing. It has to do with endorsing skills of people you are LinkedIn with.
My friend asked ‘A business acquaintance endorsed me on LinkedIn, out of the blue not at my behest. What is the appropriate action I should take? Endorse him back? Say thanks? Offer to buy him a beer? Or do nothing? ‘
Just this morning I received some ‘endorsements’ from people with whom I am LinkedIn. I did not ask anyone to endorse me. In addition at the top of my LinkedIn feed was a big box showing me a list of people that I might deem worthy of my endorsement for various skills. I did endorse a few people that had endorsed me (hard to ignore quid pro quo sometimes) and also endorsed a few people that I thought really warranted my endorsement (which I would only do if I really did feel they were worthy of an endorsement). The ‘suggestions’ of whom I might consider endorsing provided by LinkedIn kept on coming. If I passed on endorsing someone for a particular skill their name would pop up again suggesting endorsement for a different skill.
It’s easy to understand why LinkedIn would want to promote endorsements as well as why people would want to offer and receive endorsements. In social media suggestions, endorsements and recommendations from trusted friends and colleagues carry the most clout of any social interaction when it comes to getting people to take action.
But I think LinkedIn may be overstepping a bit if it is their intention to constantly put forth suggestions of who people might endorse on any kind of regular basis. What will occur is that the value of the endorsements will plummet since people will become aware that it’s too easy to just click ok and move on. Is that really an endorsement? Or is it just an acknowledgment that ‘Yes I know this person and they are familiar with and versed in this discipline’?
To me an endorsement should carry some sort of personal touch like citing a particular business experience you’ve had with the endorsee or something specific. How much time do people have to do that? However if there were fewer but more personal endorsements wouldn’t they have more value?
I told my friend that he need not do anything but if he wanted to buy the guy a beer that would be ok – who wouldn’t want that?
I think LinkedIn is treading on thin ice here – what do you think?