Submitted by guest blogger, Maeve Naughton – Senior Manager, Field Marketing at Fluke Networks and Customer Reference Expert
In my younger years, if you were endorsed by someone, it meant that you were being recommended by them. Someone valued and approved of your services or work and were willing to stand up and say, “Yes, Maeve is a good bet! I’d hire her.” It was almost like a badge of honor. You wouldn’t endorse the guy you bought an apple from because you shared an email or even a phone call to find out where his apple stand is located. That would just be silly. You don’t really know anything about them. You might, however, endorse their ability to grow great apples, after you have tried some. Maybe you found value in the price of the apple, maybe it was the greenest one on the block, offered the most crunch, lasted a week without going bad. I think you get the point.
Things have changed, and change isn’t necessarily a good thing. LinkedIn’s endorsement feature is such a thing.
According to the LinkedIn blog from Dec. 18, 2012, “Endorsements are a valuable way to enhance your professional identity and is an even simpler way to help build the professional brands of your connections. And we’re seeing great reception, with more than 550 million endorsements given out since launch.”
What I would love to know is, how many of those 550 million endorsements are legit? To me it seems like the LinkedIn endorsements are a popularity contest. Maybe even the same idea as seeing how many Twitter followers you have.
Why do I keep bringing up “legit”? I’m not going to call out people specifically but every now and then I get a happy little notice saying “so and so has endorsed you”. Well that’s just fabulous. I dated him 10 years ago and he would have no idea what my press release writing skills are like. Or, I met so and so at a party and now they’re endorsing me for my “Marketing strategy”. Funny, because we never talked about Marketing, just different types of beer we both like.
Why do I care so much about what LinkedIn is doing with this new feature? I have years of customer reference experience and taking lightly what is seen as a reference, is, well, disturbing to me. It belittles the value of a reference. I get that it’s an easy thing to do, just click a button and you’ve ultimately acted as a reference for someone, but the real world of references isn’t that easy. Reference professionals are some very hard working folks. They make sure that the right reference is matched to the right opportunity whether it be speaking with an analyst group or speaking with a prospect. It’s not as easy as clicking a button and it’s done. Hopefully people are smarter and know that just because someone is endorsed doesn’t mean that they’re good at what they’ve been endorsed for. They need to look at the actual recommendations, talk to references, both ones provided and those not provided.
With all this being said, I do love LinkedIn and am on it a few times a day checking out the suggested news for me and seeing who is moving where and all that good stuff. It’s a great site, but I think they majorly failed with the endorsement feature. References aren’t as easy as a simple click.
Do you agree?