(Last of three parts)
Stuff, or fluff? Praise, or craze? Sincere, or cheer? Those are the kinds of questions you should ask about any LinkedIn recommendations or skill endorsements that pop up in your e-mail stack before you accept them into your LinkedIn profile. That’ll make it a professionally credible statement of your skills and achievements, rather than a touchy-feely flurry of Facebookish pats-on-the-back and right-ons.
Consider the following about all would-be recommenders and endorsers:
- How well do you know those people?
- What was the nature of your professional relationships with them?
- How closely did you work with them to give them a full, clear, well-rounded idea of the skills or talents for which they’re endorsing you?
- Would you use them as references for job interviews?
- Would they have enough to say about you if your job interviewer were to contact them?
- Do you feel you possess a significant level of the skills or talents for which they’re recognizing you to give you true credibility in those areas?
- How are they wording and phrasing their recommendations? Do they sound like the right stuff to advance your standing, or mere puff pieces to please and appease you?
- How much is too much, in terms of the number of skills (strong or weak) for which you’re being endorsed, and the number of people who are endorsing you for particular skills?
An endorsement page like this may wow your Facebook friends but may give pause to potential employers, partners or clients who may suspect an attempt to gussy up your profile with the equivalent of Facebook fame. So be careful whom and what you include in your LinkedIn laudations.
In his Personal Branding Blog, career development expert Jacob Share recommends these criteria in choosing who to recommend you:
- The best recommendations are from people who actually employed you, e.g., a client or boss, because they directly observed, received and evaluated the work you did for them.
- Useful recommendations can come from co-workers or business partners who witnessed your achievements firsthand or were directly affected by them in a positive way.
- Sometimes useful recommendations can be provided by a friend, family member or fan who was impressed by your work — but be cautious of conflict-of-interest issues that could turn their recommendations into mere puff pieces.
Also be careful about how you solicit a recommendation from a LinkedIn connection. It’s a good idea to ask that person, “Do you feel you know enough about my skills and achievements in this company to recommend me on LinkedIn?” That way, you’re letting them think about what they want to say about you — or whether they’re qualified to say anything at all — before deciding whether or how to recommend you. Thus their recommendations would appear more sincere and would present your skills more believably in your profile.
Be equally careful about how you recommend or endorse others. If you want to recommend someone in the hope s/he’ll reciprocate, do the following:
- Think carefully about your answer. Rewrite it several times. Ask yourself if that would be the kind of recommendation you would want to receive.
- Back up your points about the person with actual achievements and/or skills in action you observed in that person as a client, boss, co-worker, business partner, etc.
- Keep the recommendation brief, say, 2-5 sentences of varied lengths. After all, short paragraphs rule in the attention-span-challenging world of cyberspace. Also, overlong recommendations may rouse suspicion of overpraise in viewers of your recommendee’s profile, particularly potential employers, clients, consultants and partners.
This recommendation is strong (worthy of its frame!), because it comes from the recipient’s client (“the best” on Jacob Share’s list) — who is also a 1st-level LinkedIn connection to her — and describes in specific detail the type of service she was performing for the client (immigration visa applications), the process of her service to the client (“answering every single of my questions”) and the product the client was happy with (“they have written all the reference letter drafts for me”). This lets the visitor know how well the recommendee works with her clients. The checking off of her “Top Qualities” adds extra gravy, as attributes for which to remember her.
This one is weak, indulging in generic generalities and canned clichés (“Industry Leader,” etc.) with no specifics about how the recipient “brings a wealth of knowledge” about the named subjects, or to what or to whom she has brought them. It is also overlong, forcing the visitor to click “more” to read the rest of the ramble. Moreover, the recommender’s relationship to the recipient isn’t specified, thus may not make Jacob Share’s “useful” category.
Finally, please be careful about your endorsements of others. It’s tempting, when the menu at left pops up on your profile, to simply click “Endorse all 4,” then click the same for the following foursome, and the next, and the next, and the next… to ballyhoo the brands of your buddies.
Yours Truly used to do just that, until one of my endorsees bade me to stop, because that person did not possess many of the skills I was endorsing to no end. Since then, I have been very selective about my endorsements. I question whether someone truly does “know about” the area of expertise below his/her name before clicking the “Endorse” button. That way, endorsements can be as credible as well-written recommendations from professional sources.
It’s nice to sweeten up your LinkedIn peers’ profiles, hoping they’ll follow suit for you. But, as candy can give you cavities, flattery can make you fall flat in the eyes of those you seek to do business with or hire you. So credibility, not candy, and surety, not sugar-coating, are key to LinkedIn leverage, rather than Facebook fanaticism, in all professional social media profiles.
— Todd Larson
Thank you for visiting. I welcome your comments!