If you have logged into LinkedIn in the past few months, you may have noticed a new function called Endorsements. This allow users to certify other members of their LinkedIn network in a particular skill or industry. If I’ve worked with Bob on a project and he’s proven to have strong SAP Materials Management skills, I can “endorse” him in SAP-MM. Other users viewing Bob’s profile can see this endorsement alongside all the other endorsements he has received. On each profile, you can now see a pseudo-barchart ranking that user’s endorsed skills. But of what value is this feature?
On paper, this sounds like a nice feature but how meaningful is it? Now, I’ve received several endorsements over the past few months from clients and colleagues, for which I am incredibly grateful. But I’ve also received endorsements from individuals who have absolutely no insight into what I do for skills they probably do not even understand. This makes me question the integrity of such a certification. I can see this feature quickly becoming abused — individuals endorsing everyone they know in hopes that they too will be showered with endorsements.
I’m sure that those calling the shots at LinkedIn have already considered this and have written off such abuses as outliers. And I would certainly hope that most users would respect such a tool. But let’s assume for a moment that such abuses did not exist. What does this feature become? Are LinkedIn endorsements to become a benchmark for popularity to rival such meaningless metrics as Facebook Friend counts, Twitter Followers and Re-tweets?
There’s no better way in the world of LinkedIn to “endorse” someone’s capabilities than the classic recommendation. I recently left a recommendation for my former manager through LinkedIn and was able to specify areas in which he excelled and delivered value. To me, this is what really counts.
What say you?