Shortly after LinkedIn launched its endorsement function in September 2012, we wrote about the advantages of endorsements for real estate professionals (One Good Endorsement Deserves Another On LinkedIn’s Newest Feature, October 2, 2012).

As you may know, LinkedIn’s endorsement feature pulls keywords from your profile into blue rectangles on your profile page (you can also write your own categories). Thus your connections can endorse your skills or expertise with one click. The Big Idea is to save your connections the bother of writing a recommendation and simply click one button instead.

A LinkedIn endorsement for business skills is roughly equivalent to a Facebook “Like.”  It’s not a bad idea and LinkedIn touts it as a success reporting “there have been 550 million Endorsements so far and 10 million are given every day.”

When endorsed, you get an email notification that so-and-so has endorsed you for this skill or that expertise. You can add a new skill suggested by a contact to your profile with one click. Then LinkedIn lands you on the “It’s your turn” page, where you can return the favor to a group of connections that LinkedIn selects with a handy “Endorse All” button.  Why not? It seems polite to return the favor.

If you polled real estate professionals that use LinkedIn and asked which is more valuable to your business: recommendations or endorsements? My guess is the overwhelming vote would favor recommendations.

Endorsements Revisited

As of today I have received nearly 400 endorsements. Nice. But here’s the $64,000 question: Do endorsements “help” one’s business… or are they a meaningless popularity contest?

As I’ve watched my endorsements pile up, I’ve noticed some people endorse me for skills I don’t have. Maybe they are endorsing me for a skill I didn’t know I had? Or are they simply endorsing me in hopes I endorsement them back?

Other endorsements come from strangers or connections I don’t know well.

The entire process is so easy (one click) I’ve already “maxed out” at 99+ in the “real estate” category. Any more endorsements are meaninglessly, simply piling higher and deeper. In short, at some point LinkedIn endorsements are less about me and more about endorsers who get credit for their endorsement with a link back to their profile. But there are safeguards.

True. You can only be endorsed by first-tier connections. So if you don’t know all your connections it’s your fault if they are strangers. Plus, LinkedIn says you have to OK the category to show up on your profile. You also can show/hide an individual’s endorsement, and add/remove skill/expertise categories. For new categories the user can rearrange order as long as there are no endorsements.

Dear LinkedIn: Some Suggestions For Improvement

As much as I like the good intention of LinkedIn’s endorsements, here are some suggestions for improvement:

  1. Endorsing is too easy. Eliminate the all-in-one “Endorse” button which registers an endorsement for every category. Make endorsers at least be selective, rather than fire off a one-size-fits-all click without a moment’s thought.
  2. Personal experience. Add the ability for endorsers to share their first-hand experience with you in a short text (max 144 characters?). Context adds gravitas to the endorsement. LinkedIn could call this expanded endorsement a “Testimonial.” The result would be longer than an endorsement, shorter than a recommendation.
  3. If size matters. For users where quantity is important, don’t limit a category to display 99+. Why not indicate the total endorsements (the figure is available by clicking on the 99+ box). For folks with tons of connections and a zillion endorsements in a category, that could be impressive to some profile readers.

Ultimately, just like the fundamentals of privacy, the most important ability for a LinkedIn user is to have control over the information posted about you, not controlled by the crowd. We all know it is difficult to control what others say about you…but LinkedIn could give us the tools and be a leader with these enhancements.

Got your own suggestions? Make your voice heard. Add a comment. Share your experience.

Or, check out the comments on this Endorsements forum at LinkedIn:

More noteworthy reading about LinkedIn Endorsements:

Dan Richard

Emeritus at Gooder Group
Dan is the Founder of the Gooder Group and the author of a series of successful Real Estate books:

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