In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston talks about LinkedIn Endorsements…. what they mean… how people interpret them….and whether they’re any use…or not!…
One of the things I’ve been asked about a lot recently, is the LinkedIn ‘Endorsement’ feature. Added to a few profiles for ‘testing’ last year (before they rolled it out fully) this has been a topic that comes up recently WHENEVER LinkedIn is mentioned!
And because so may people have asked my thoughts and opinions on it (as well as how to best leverage it, if they are going to use it), I thought it would be useful to put my answers to various people’s questions down here, so you can benefit from my thoughts on the topic too!
So here are some of the questions I’ve been asked… and my responses to them…..let me know what you think by commenting at the bottom of the article as well!
I must admit, I’m personally not a huge fan of the Endorsement feature on LinkedIn. I personally feel that it actually distracts people from focussing on the more important parts of the profile – like the recommendations section – where you can get a true ‘gauge’ of that individual and what they’re like.
Unfortunately, when LinkedIn made the changes to the profile layout, they ‘forced’ the recommendations section of the profile into the lower section of your profile – so you have less control than you did over how far down (or up) your profile your recommendations appear.
Now that your Endorsements are higher up than your Recommendations, the Endorsements are one of the initial things people base some of their initial judgements about you on.
Interestingly, in this blog in the Observer, written just after the endorsement feature was launched, seems to point out that the feature just seems to encourage people back to LinkedIn itself! Making the site more ‘sticky’ and more people to use it – obviously benefiting LinkedIn itself (and it’s advertising revenue!).
I think the short answer to this is ‘no’. Unlike the Recommendation feature, where people write individual feedback (so you can make a judgement as to the ‘strength’ of the recommendation), the endorsements are done simply with a click of a button – in fact LinkedIn often ‘prompts’ you to endorse people’s skills on occasion just when you land on their profile!
This is made even worse by the fact that it’s sometimes easier to get rid of the ‘do you want to endorse xyz for..’ by clicking ‘endorse’, than it is to click ‘skip’ – as you know if you click ‘skip’ the box will appear NEXT TIME you land on that person’s profile and ask you to endorse them! Just easier to click ‘endorse’ – and lo and behold! Another meaningless endorsement!
The consequence of that, is that you get people endorsing you for skills when they have had little or no interaction with you, and have no idea if you have that skill or not! Even worse, you get endorsed for skills that you don’t actually want on your profile, just that the person endorsing you decided to endorse you for that too – it then appears on your profile – bizarre! Everyone I’ve spoken to talks about this happening to them – and everyone hates it!
If you want to turn off your endorsement feature, or delete any of them, a good article that explains how to do it quickly is here.
Actually, I think over time it will get worse! When the Endorsement feature was first introduced, the ‘count’ on the number of endorsements was in 3 figures, i.e. it was able to go up to 999. I know this because some of my own endorsements had over 100 endorsements on there (I have a big network of course, and I’m known for being good at what I do).
In their first revision of the feature however, LinkedIn limited it to 2 figures, so the most endorsements any skill can display is ’99+’. Nobody viewing your profile has any way of telling whether you have 100 endorsements for that skill, or 999!
You can see from the example of my own profile on the left, you can get 99+ endorsements for most (if not all) of your top skills pretty quickly – especially if you have a large network and have trained tens of thousands of people around the world like myself – it’s easy to get to the 99+ stage, fast!
It’s less of an issue for the majority of people right now however, as most people aren’t at the 99+ endorsements for each skill yet. But over time? They probably will be. Which negates any usefulness the feature might have left by that point!
Some of LinkedIn’s own thoughts on Endorsements can be viewed here.
I think the Endorsement feature could well be removed by LinkedIn in the future. Once people’s endorsements start to get over 99+, then I think they’ll start to see the uselessness of it!
But it appears to be here to stay… at least for now….. so we need to make sure that our Endorsements get us seen in the best light, and aren’t detrimental to persuading people to connect with us, network with us, buy into us, or buy from us – depending what your outcome is from your LinkedIn profile of course! It’s a case of Risk-Mitigation if you will.
I think, whether we like the feature or not (and I think you’ve guessed my opinion on it by now) we need to bear in mind that people will make judgements on us (and our capabilities) based on the what we’re endorsed for, and the numbers.
Their initial judgements will be formed based on that, and backed up (or not) based on your profile summary and your recommendations. Those are the two other places people pay most attention to when looking at a LinkedIn profile as a potential buyer of your products or services for example.
For example if you’re in Recruitment, ‘recruiting’ should be a skill high up (if not at the top of your endorsement list).
I know this sounds simple, but you’d be amazed how many people fall foul of it!
In the screenshot above, you can see the example of my friend and fellow International Speaker Geoff Ramm. His top 6 endorsed skills cover the areas he specialises in, or relate to them. 5 of his top 6 relate to either Marketing (his area of expertise) or Speaking (his main method of delivering his message). His other skill in the top 6, Entrepreneurship, relates to some of his audience.
Yes! I know one recruiter who is very very good at recruitment, but his LinkedIn profile doesn’t even show ‘recruiting’ as a skill to endorse! His top is endorsed skill is ‘Russian’ (he is an English guy based in Russia), so his endorsements actually say to people ‘I’m crap at recruiting, but if you want to learn Russian, I’m your guy!!’ – definitely NOT the impression he’s looking to give potential clients!
In an ideal world, while the Endorsement feature is still active, you want your endorsed skills at the top of the list to reflect the most important skills about you and what you do. For example, in this recruiters case, things like ‘recruitment’, ‘finding hidden candidates’, ‘recruitment in russia’, ‘international recruitment’ etc etc – you get the picture.
Well the people I work with most (in relation to training on LinkedIn) are salespeople, and people using LinkedIn for Lead Generation and Business Development purposes. I don’t tend to train standard courses on ‘how to use linkedin’ – anyone can do that! As part of my ‘Stand Out Selling’ sales methodology, I train how to use LinkedIn as a Sales Persuasion tool as part of your sales process – which is a very different thing entirely.
The biggest tip I can give you in relation to that, is think how your profile looks to potential buyers. Your objective (from a Sales Persuasion point of view) is to demonstrate your credibility, your professionalism, how you’ve helped people, how you’ve generated results for them etc etc. Think about the key skills they would want to see (in order to think about buying from you, or at least giving you an enquiry) and make sure they’re right at the top of the endorsements on your profile!
Good luck with your LinkedIn profile and your future sales! Oh, and if we’re not connected already, make sure you connect to me on LinkedIn as well!
And what are your thoughts on the LinkedIn Endorsements feature? Add your comments below…..
This article is copyright Andy Preston 2014-2016. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.