Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Facebooking of Linkedin: Endorsing "Skills and Expertise" : Take 2

Last week I posted my first impression of the new "endorsement" feature on LinkedIn.

On first pass I admit to thinking the endorsement of "skills and expertise" feature was pretty neat. So I wrote that in this blog. 

But I threw in a caveat that some LIONs (open networkers) and others would devalue this currency by seeking hundreds of endorsements from those they do not know. This is already happening.

I posted the blog link into more than 40 LinkedIn groups and the feedback started to come in. Some thanked me for explaining what the heck was going on, others started questioning the value of the tool, the further Facebooking of LinkedIn.

Facebook has the "Like" button which seems to be attached to everything: groups, people, events, pets, music, halitosis and haggis. It is too easy to like something, anything, on FB.

Many of those responding to the discussions on LinkedIn think it should be harder to endorse people in a professional setting, preferring the "Recommendation" method.

I have to agree.

I think it is important to point out that some people have skills worth recommending, and it should take more than a click of a button to say why I feel this way.

I have "recommended" 343 people on LinkedIn, people I respect and who have added value to my professional skills set or otherwise helped me along the way, friends like David Powell, Scott Heller, Olga Grkavac, Dendy Young, Richard Dean, Ann-Marie Clark, Tom Hewitt, Nick Wakeman, Max Peterson, Tom Tweedie, David Meerman Scott, Guy Timberlake, Sheila Schatzke, Bob Davis, Michael Keating, June Jewell, Lisa DeLuca and hundreds of others. It is a long list.

While that number may seem high, I have been a LinkedIn member since February 11, 2004 and have been in business as Amtower and Company since January 1, 1985. Lots of people have helped me along the way, and many continue to do so.

As I state in my second book, Why Epiphanies Never Occur to Couch Potatoes, I prefer to acknowledge the contributions of others while they are still with us, not after they are gone.

I like LinkedIn. I teach classes on using it, coach people and companies on maximizing the value of it, and use it myself on a daily basis. It is a great business tool.

But I hope that the powers managing LinkedIn resist temptations to "dumb it down" and further emulate Facebook.

This is a business tool and a business network. Let's keep it professional.

In Epiphanies, I warn against falling for every shiny rock that is in your path.

Every day we are confronted by offers that seem to be shortcuts to success. We get assaulted by these from all media- television, the radio, in publications we read, phone calls we get, the people we see in the parking lot, the grocery store or an elevator. Too many people, it seems, are looking for angles, not purposes; a quick and easy ride to wealth, not for the satisfaction of a life lived well. So when the shiny rock offer comes along, we are susceptible.

The endorsement feature can be a shiny rock. If you choose to use the endorsement feature, use it wisely. But also take the time to use the recommendation feature as well and truly acknowledge the contributions of others.


  1. To Mark's point and following a quick conversation we had on this topic, Endorsing someone without explanation involves very little risk. Qualifying why you endorse someone for a particular skill or expertise takes more time and generally has more impact.

    I'm with Mark and saying the recommendation feature is the way to go if you want to truly articulate your endorsement of a fellow business professional.

    Guy Timberlake

  2. Mark, it is an interesting feature. But I wonder how much of this is an "arms race" with Facebook? I really hate when the social sites copy one another and at the same time refuse to play together. (Ever see a live tweet in a Google search for example)?

  3. David- great point re: playing together. A Tweet in a Google search??? Your comment made me LOL!

  4. As LinkedIn goes after more recruitment advertising dollars, features like the Endorsements will be coming through more. This feature will soon be searchable and unfortunately may replace recommendations as something of value to hiring managers.
    I truly like Recommendations and believe they are more valuable than the Endorsements.
    Endorsements are Facebook, and the shiny object and a race to see who can get the most of any particular Skill in the line up.
    There are some challenges with the Endorsements. First, if you have not taken the time to edit and refine the Skills you have on your Profile you will get Endorsed for something that is not even a Skill - look up Job Scanning.
    Second, Skills & Expertise is not clearly defined. In the category listing is "security clearance", "DHS" and other terms in our space. But does this mean you are an expert? You work there? Have worked there? Have a clearance?
    It would be great if crowdsourcing would address these issues, but there is a very West Coast mindset to the LinkedIn features. Being from the West Coast, I feel I can take that liberty.