Last year sometime, I wrote a blog for Forbes regarding LinkedIn’s “new” phenomenon of endorsing someone’s skills by clicking off some boxes in a series of prompts the social media site displays at the top of their page. It asks questions like, “Does Sally Smith know about sales?” and so on, covering all the keyword skills Sally Smith typed in to represent herself, popping up ad nauseam among others they expect you to agree with. Even the nature of these questions are so g-d elementary, you’d think a third grader had made them up. And over the past year and a half, members of LinkedIn have gone crazy checking off just about every box for every connection they had, possibly hoping (1) the favor would be returned and/or (2) seeing a thumbnail of their photo representing their endorsement actually meant something to others looking at that person’s profile.
This lame endorsement feature means little to nothing in my humble opinion and ends up being a bit of a scam. Why? Because people I have never met nor ever done business with began clicking away, “endorsing” me in this manner. How do they know I am skilled at writing press releases if they have never seen one I crafted? Why do they assume I am great at telling stories if they’ve never read a single blog I’ve written? In fact, it would seem that endorsing skills willy-nilly for people you’ve never worked with before on LinkedIn only de-values the endorsements of the people who actually have experienced your skills and talents.
While I don’t wish to insult those people who sincerely clicked these boxes meaningfully (in others words, they actually know me by my work), I maintain this addition by LinkedIn is a total and undeniable COP OUT — a lazy person’s way of recommending your work. What ever happened to the simple little message sent to your selected, qualified connections that asks that they actually say something about you?
Some time back I sent a message to dozens of my connections, changing the boilerplate message LinkedIn offers to “If you have a moment, I would very much appreciate your saying something about your experience working with me.” And guess what? I got a flood of 15+ well thought out, articulate recommendations sent by some of my most valued clients, all happy to write a few lines about me. Some of the people I asked me to write up something they could post about me, but I graciously turned those folks down, because I know they know how to speak and write English fairly well and certainly did not want to put words in their mouths.
My point is this: don’t ever undervalue the written word when it comes to recommending a business associate. Writing a recommendation for someone on LinkedIn is as close as many of us will ever come to creating a letter of recommendation for those we value in our business network. And believe it or not, people value a written opinion much more than a clicked box accompanied by a thumbnail photo among dozens of others at the bottom of a profile.
Okay, that’s my rant for now. When I think of more, I’ll let you know. Then when you click off “skilled at op-ed journalism” on my LinkedIn profile I’ll know you were paying attention.