Social Enterprise

LinkedIn endorsements: I'm not sure I approve

Social media can be very effective and very positive. But there's a fine line between networks moving things forward and simply devaluing the currency - or even putting your reputation at risk.

Written in Abu Dhabi airport and despatched to TechRepublic at 50Mbps via an open wi-fi service.

I have just been endorsed by the Pope. Yes, it's true. And he asked me to endorse him in return. So I not only endorsed him, I also endorsed his friend, Her Majesty the Queen. How about that?

In fact, I've been watching a tidal wave of frenetic endorsing, where people I have met only once are endorsing me. In fact I have been endorsed by a few I've never actually met - I may only have communicated with them in some fleeting electronic way.

Of course, this development is a consequence of social networking. I have no idea how it started but I have been getting endorsed up to five times a day for the past two weeks and it is showing no signs of slowing down. So far I look like a really good egg and a sure-fire bet for someone looking to hire me, but what does it really mean, and should I advertise all this support or just keep quiet about it?

What I now have is an impressive profile to add to my social presence at the click of a button - and no doubt it will continue to grow and get more impressive as the weeks go by:

Image: Peter Cochrane/TechRepublic

The most interesting feature is the yellow Add to profile button at the bottom. As soon as you click on it, you get the opportunity to endorse all your endorsees:

Image: Peter Cochrane/TechRepublic

This is the vital positive-feedback mechanism that will drive up the numbers globally and make sure the Pope and Her Majesty the Queen get their name up in lights, too.

So, to click or not to click, to endorse in return or not? That is the key question. Will a set of endorsements add to my value and perceived ability, and conversely, will the lack of endorsements be absolutely damning? Admittedly, they are not all worthless, but I detect a large number of people needing to get endorsed.

During my life I have endorsed many products, books and people. But it has always been a considered affair that I have seen as an investment in driving improvement and positive change, helping the really good and valuable come to the top.

It has also involved me in risking a percentage of my perceived value and wisdom in support, and so it hasn't been done lightly and not without some considerable care.

Fast-forward to today and that old model and set of values may well have just been blown away and the currency devalued as a result.

But in reality I suspect it is mutating into something new and global with a different value set. So for now I'm going to click, and think long and hard about those I should click back.

About

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

33 comments
GeoffBold
GeoffBold

The value of all this will be driven by the people reading the profiles, not in the value the profile holder places onthe endorsements. I have personally always looked for a backup for an endorsement. I find that a single endorsement for a skill or trait is more likely to be perception based, but a second person confirming the endoresement provides a somewhat more realistic picture. This cannot be properly achived on a social media platform. The LinkedIn endorsements need to be taken with a pintch of salt, part of the bigger picture. Here quality counts for more than quantity.

rozykc
rozykc

maybe if one can "filter" their endorsements - so when relative strangers endorse me, I can choose to publish their endorsement, or not... just like the recommendations...

PReinie
PReinie

I started getting endorsements (thanks for them), but after a few, even though they were from people I did know, I figured it was just another (LinkedIn) fad. Maybe, if I have time (to find my LinkedIn password), I'll endorse some folks. (Is liking them copyrighted?) How do I get the Queen, and the Pope (like they have time, and I'm not English or catholic) to endorse me?

nickyA
nickyA

lately I see more and more reassembling to Facebook ... I even joke and Called it "Facebook for Pro's" I am receiving invitations to connect from people all around the globe, that I don't even know(like South Park parody:-) ). It's getting irritating and I told few times to delete my profile and un-subscribe. And Now with this endorsing??? If we just met or have everyday -few minutes conversation- does not mean that I know how good you are at specific skill you listed...

eaglewolf
eaglewolf

I don't click the 'add to profile,' and thanks for letting me know this is a reciprocal thing designed to boost somebody else's 'numbers.' LinkedIn *used* to have value, but lacks it now. In addition to the current endorsement lunacy, it appears there is some sort of unwritten 'challenge' to see how many people you can link with. It's another copy of 'how many "friends" can you have on Facebook that you don't know' (and no, I'm not on Facebook, either). I've surmised that many I contact for work-related issues apparently have their e-mail set to automatically create contacts for those not already included in their addresses. Yes, I get both LinkedIn and Facebook 'invites' from them .. over and over. Do I detect a bit of trolling there? I've often wondered if this is with, or without, the knowledge/consent of the individual. Recently, I sent a rather scathing message to LinkedIn regarding the downhill trends and growing lack of value to me. Have I received a reply yet? Of course not.

bamabryant
bamabryant

You have relieved me of feelings of guilt when I choose NOT to endorse someone I don't know. I also don't endorse anyone that I do know if the skill they are declaring is a real reach for them. Sorry but I am not sticking my neck out for you just because you know the definition of the term but have never put it into practice.

sighthound
sighthound

I made the same kind of observation on my linked in account and received two responses. One liked the new system and one agreed with me. But I expected more response. Quoted endorsements mean something. Clicks on a tag, not so much.

gparadelog
gparadelog

I must admit my experience is different. I'm getting endorsed by people that really knows me and only for skills they know me about. I'm doing the same: only endorsing people for their skills I can account for. I got the same felling than you, when I receive my first endorment. But decided that, to be effective, it should be done in a trully way.

peerkaye
peerkaye

Peter, just like you, I feel you big time. LinkedIn has to think of a way to curb this....

Otto Roth
Otto Roth

Notwithstanding the endorsements, I have a problem with LinkedIN per Se. I found some persons listed that I personally know cannot draw a straight line advertising them as being able to. Hence my quote on my Profile: In search of a biz monkey (why bother?) Andrew Chen coins a great term. A biz monkey is a replaceable, Powerpoint toting, suit wearing, acronym-spewing middle manager business dude drone. They are quick to comment and sneer, slow to actually ship. When something is scarce, it's valuable. MBA's with buzzwords and the ability to raise a million dollars around some web idea are not scarce. They are fungible. People who understand technology and are willing to bend it to their will, on the other hand, are scarce. They can't be found with a classified ad on Craigslist, LinkedIN or in a blind project ad on eLance. The job of the smart business person isn't to fish in waters where coders are cheap. It's to have enough initiative and vision that the best coders in the world will realize that they'll do better with you than without you. Business people add value when they make things happen, not when they seek to hire cheap. - Seth Godin - 2011/04/13 What is needed is a qualifier of sorts - I am listed on the SPI website as a Pr Eng as I had to have the proper background before I could qualify to be listed internationally! Etc. BTW: I see I am logged in here at TechRepublic as one of my non de plumes, Otto Roth, another also being Richard Sole (R Sole) !

tarose.trevor
tarose.trevor

Someone does not need to have met you to endorse all of your work ... some of your work they can quite validly endorse, because they have SEEN that work. It's really quite simple.

peter
peter

Other countries don't have SUVs or station wagons...but they all have social networking :-)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Just as the SUV is the station wagon for people who wouldn't be caught dead driving a station wagon, LinkedIn is the Facebook for people who wouldn't be caught dead using Facebook.

qazolat
qazolat

Frankly, this latest wheeze from the world of “business class” social networking comes as little surprise??? When I review the LinkedIn profiles of colleagues I have recently worked with or directly managed, their recollection of the work they did and skills they possess have mushroomed beyond all recognition. They've become experts in Siebel or SAP implementations, just because they had some end-user training. Others have become "Project Managers" and "Change Management" gurus, despite never having led a project or managed a programme of change, and indeed, never having received any formal training in these disciplines. Indeed, one lad is apparently now a telephony expert, and claims to have migrated a call centre in the north to a Cisco VoIP system. Errr??? no you didn’t - I worked closely with the team that did, and you worked in that call centre answering the phone. You showed aptitude for utilising the system, and you were labelled a “user expert”, but nothing more. As an experiment, I tried creating a fictitious LinkedIn profile a while back, and used a single letter from the alphabet in the skills and experience sections. Sure enough, I had two endorsements within 24 hours. I think that speaks for itself. In many cases, it seems LinkedIn is utilised just for inadequates to massage their egos in public. I can't see much use for it in the real world. Having said all that, I'm still on it, just in case...

jvictorchurchill
jvictorchurchill

I'm glad to see I am not alone in feeling a bit uncomfortable about this development. I too fear that the Endorsement mechanism will encourage badge-collecting and people issuing shotgun endorsements in the hope of getting lots back. I have received 'endorsements' from old school mates who I have not even seen for decades (honestly) as well as from people with whom I am in regular contact both professional and extra-curricular; there is actually an element of emotional blackmail in this: someone you meet regularly and respect has endorsed you - what will they think if you do not endorse them 'in return'? In fact the more I think about this the more I consider it a bit of an infringement. I feel like there ought to be a bit of a dialogue first, as there is with the mutually agreed recommendations mechanism.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

You want as many as possibly. In fact set up a load of fake accounts, and then endorse your self loads of times. You'll look great....

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

No really... Have a think about what you just said versus the problem highlighted by other posters. If you can't see it, that would not be a good endorsement...

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Or mistakenly, especially with the incentive of a reciprocal endorsement for a skill they have (or don't). I send you a C# application, how do you know I wrote it, I send you the code , how do know it goes with the app, that I wrote, it, which bit I wrote, that all the mistakes in it were not down to me, or to be fixed in the next version. How capabale a judge are you of good code. Even if you are how does it match up to the spec? Duff endorsements can happen, so will happen, then all endorsements will be seen as having the same value, i.e. none whatsoever. Anyone who takes endorsements done via this mechanism derserves the collection of liars, sychophants and planks they are going to get. They have about as much value as a photoshopped 1998 MCSE, handed out by the non-existent university of X.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

It would probably have been more clear had I used "Americans" instead of "people" in the leading clause.

hesself
hesself

I agree with all the above coments. A one-click endorsement is probably easy enough to do even though it may not be worth anything. But what if you get an email from your colleague from three years ago asking you to write an endorsement for her? Perhaps she is looking for a job and actually wants that kind of meangless info on her profile?

Juanita Marquez
Juanita Marquez

LinkedIn is the Facebook for people you don't want or need to show your personal pictures, information, or non-company-sanctioned opinions to - AKA "work friends" or potential employers. But seriously, it can be quite a good tool. I use it to research other companies before I consider being contracted or employed there - the dirt I can dig with a friendly "Hello, why did you leave this company, I'm thinking of working there" would make tabloids blush - and it has some fun items as well. This is a good place to polish your own apple, although I agree the Endorsement item is not necessarily a reliable one.

peter
peter

Good grief - that is exactly the same as creating a fraudulent CV and will result in the same outcome if discovered!

peter
peter

Since I wrote this the mechanism seems to have gone into overdrive and I was endorsed 7 times yesterday alone. Still trying to figure out the end point, but it looks like being a zero!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Feeling obligated to send a card to anyone you'd received one from. Can't move on the site without getting badgered for more as well.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

un-endorse people that way there's no come back or criticism. Okay it's spineless, but you can face yourself in the mirror, waht the 'ell.

tarose.trevor
tarose.trevor

the specific kind of instance I was referring to relates to my own endorsements of others ... I know many of them through their work in film, television, events, media, entertainment etc ... very public profile industries ... so, if I have watched a movie which was directed by someone, or they did the costumes, special effects, or make-up, I do not need to know them personally to endorse them, as I have seen the end result ... and as a field of endeavour about which I know something, and hold a passionate interest, I know what to look for, and I know what I like ... hence, I do not need to know them personally, I only need to connect with them here on Linked In ... You would be absolutely correct to suggest that the system is open to corruption, that is obvious ... I was merely pointing out that there are many valid ways to rationalise / justify the validity of an endorsement :-)

peter
peter

Just made me smile - and not a bad analogy

peter
peter

We are all used to that - and I take it all seriously - a friend in need is a friend indeed! But I'm not sure how, or if, any prospective employer will take this new channel into account.

mckinnej
mckinnej

sounded like a good idea at the time, but it quickly devolved into meaningless junk. The old endorsement system actually forced you to write comments. Obviously that was too hard (I've only written 2 or 3 myself), so they came up with this to drive more site traffic. It worked. I was on there a few times a week when this first started, compared to once a month before. Now I've quit responding to them. They're just spam now. Besides, I'm not even sure where you can go to see them. I didn't notice them on my profile. I certainly wouldn't put much faith in them anyway.

peter
peter

Exactly the same mechanism, but on afterburners !

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