LinkedIn has added a number of new features recently, but the one that seems to be getting the most attention, and is certainly the most noticeable, is the new “endorsement” feature, which was introduced in late September.
LinkedIn has always had “recommendations.” Recommendations allow your connections to write a short note about how much they liked working with you or highlighting something positive about you. Interestingly, for lawyers, these recommendations might bring into play ethical issues around the notion of “endorsements.”
Recommendations are highly-valued, often-sought, and rarely-written. Writing what amounts to a public letter of reference is difficult and time-consuming.
The new LinkedIn endorsements greatly simplify the recommendation concept and work hand in hand with LinkedIn’s focus on “Skills,” an option LinkedIn gives you to add skills that you have to your Profile. David Breger on the LinkedIn blog described endorsements as a way to “give kudos with just one click.”
I find the new endorsement feature similar to the “Like” feature for Facebook updates. In Facebook, a friend posts an update that you might comment on, but because you don’t have the time or can’t think of a clever or apt comment to make, you simply “like” the update to show that, well, you like it. It’s a shorthand way to acknowledge what your friend said with a positive connotation.
As part of your LinkedIn Profile, you can (and should) select Skills that you have. LinkedIn gives you plenty of options related to your practice, public speaking, writing and much more.
Once you have selected some Skills, the new endorsement feature lets your connections click a checkbox to acknowledge (“endorse”) that they also believe that you have those Skills. When a connection makes the endorsement, you get a notification through LinkedIn. While it’s rare to get Recommendations, I have seen (and appreciated) on a regular basis since September that a connection has endorsed a specific Skill.
While receiving endorsements is a good thing, it’s probably more important that you can also endorse the Skills of a connection of yours, letting them know that you acknowledge their Skills. It’s a small “touch” to let your connections know that you are thinking of them and have a good opinion of their skills.
How do you make an endorsement? Simply go to the Profile of one of your connections. LinkedIn will pop up a box with a list of their Skills (assuming they’ve entered Skills into their Profile) and ask you if you want to endorse one or more of those Skills. It’s that easy. Compare that to the time and effort involved in writing a well-crafted, thoughtful, public recommendation.
There’s been a bit of controversy about endorsements. Many people have made the obvious point that recommendations are better and mean more than endorsements. Yes, but an endorsement is better than no recommendation. People should understand the difference. The “Like” analogy from Facebook is a useful one.
Some people have also talked about the quality vs. quantity issues around recommendations and endorsements. Without question, as a general rule, it’s best to have a glowing recommendation with stories illustrating your value, but it also strikes me that having a good number of the new endorsements would have its own value. For example, if you have listed public speaking as a Skill and people looking for a speaker can tell that you have had 20 or 50 (or some significant) number of endorsements as a public speaker, they might be more inclined to contact you than someone with only a few endorsements or only one or two recommendations from several years ago. It’s worth thinking about that.
Endorsements give you an easy new method to reach out to your LinkedIn network in a positive way. Consider endorsing a connection’s skills today and give them kudos with just one click.