You can’t help but notice them. By now even the infrequent visitor to LinkedIn has been invited to endorse his connections, in batch or individually. Critics deride the endorsements as inaccurate, irrelevant or without meaning.
For those who aren’t familiar, endorsements require little effort on the person making the endorsement. LinkedIn serves up your connections, asking whether you’d like to endorse them for “an area of expertise” that LinkedIn suggests or one you’d type in.
Perhaps the ease with which we can endorse our connections minimizes their value. With record numbers of endorsements given, there is no doubt some endorsement inflation is going on.
Yet could there be something of value in the endorsements we receive?
Here are six reasons you should take your endorsements seriously:
1. Reveal Your True Skill Sets.
While no single endorsement is too great an indicator, taken in aggregate your endorsements may reflect your true skill sets. Or, more to the point, these may be the skill sets your connections believe you have. This could be an eye-opening experience for someone whose self-perception is different than how his connections see him.
2. Uncover Potential Clients.
You may be pleasantly surprised to find that prospective clients you have pursued but not landed have endorsed you. These may be signals that they are open to more communication and may need your services now or in the future.
3. Prove Client Satisfaction (or Dissatisfaction).
However easy it may be to endorse you online, your connections wouldn’t do so if they didn’t have a favorable opinion of your character and competence.If few of your endorsements are from clients, it may be a sign that your service isn’t being valued. This is obviously dependent on being connected to and having more than a handful of past and present clients. If this is the case, you may want to start asking clients how satisfied they are with your work.
4. Measure Change.
Assuming you aren’t getting endorsements from clients, make a series of changes aimed at improving client satisfaction. Tracking whether you start to receive endorsements may be a one indicator of your effectiveness in satisfying clients.
5. Increase Awareness.
As much as connections would like to stay in touch more often, time constraints and busy schedules prevent them from doing so. Giving you an endorsement may be a soft greeting, a way of acknowledging and validating your relationship.
In turn, when you are giving the endorsement, your name flashes on their screen and that endorsement serves as a reminder to your connection of the services you provide.
6. Gain Higher Visibility.
I can’t say this with certainty, but my hunch is that the more active you are on LinkedIn, the more visible your profile becomes, both to your own connections and to those who are doing a search for someone with your experience and skills. I suspect giving an endorsement plays into their activity algorithm which likely means that giving an endorsement will increase the number of times your profile comes up on your connections LinkedIn pages.
In short, LinkedIn endorsements may appear to have little value, but if used correctly, can be part of your overall networking strategy. Endorsements you receive may be a reflection of the strengths your connections believe you have; endorsements you give may raise your visibility among your connections. Paying attention to both may ultimately lead to greater self-awareness, stronger relationships, and new clients.