Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Why endorsements are political on #LinkedIn

Endorsements seem to be newsworthy these days. Just in case you are actively managing who endorsed you (and you MUST on LinkedIn), here’s an excerpt from my upcoming book (to be published by the American Bar Association in the fall):

Endorsements by people who do not have direct experience with your skill, despite the fact they endorsed you with good intention or out of carelessness, need to be edited out. Again no worries, losing their endorsement is not an issue since they can neither help describe your skills anyhow nor assist you in being in the search results. Besides, LinkedIn does not notify them you deleted their endorsement…

Yes, it takes effort to cull out endorsers who are not appropriate. But it is a worthwhile investment that may take some bulk time initially but will be far less time-consuming as you keep up with this housecleaning chore.

Why is this important? For attorneys: be sure to remove any endorsements that are not factual as this can be perceived as failure to keep up with them may contravene ethics rules under your bar association guidelines. Why else?

Suppose I need a referral of a trusted financial advisor for baby boomers with older parents. You are one of those financial advisors, and I may know you from a brief meeting at a chamber event. Another day I am meeting with Carolyn, who has already endorsed you for your skills in Eldercare Financial Planning, and I explain why I need her input on the short list of quality candidates. Ahead of my conversation I did my homework and see you and she are mutual LinkedIn connections. I delved further in your profile and I saw she endorsed you for a skill in Eldercare Financial Planning. I ask her during my meeting how she knows your skill in that area. She stammers, then with some embarrassment admits she has no experience with you in that skill area.

How do you look?

How does she feel?

What do I think of you both now, especially you?

Have I wasted my time?

Uh oh, your work requires you to be thorough. Your brand is to be reliable and have an eye out for possible technical (tax, legal, documentary) roadblocks and to be able to react to new financial opportunities.

But your LinkedIn profile is out of synch with your brand. You missed something. I think to myself: that if you are not very complete, missing details in your own profile, how will you handle my financial details in a complex financial situation? Will you skip over something that might cause problems down the road?

Farfetched? No, not really. I hear real stories like this frequently and it’s uncomfortable for all involved. No one wants to feel embarrassed. Worse, you allowed an endorsement from someone with no real experience with your skill in that area, and your pristine reputation is now spotty in my view. Your mistake or not, I may no longer consider you and move along to someone else. It is best not to allow yourself to be placed in such a situation especially since it’s quick and easy to fix an errant endorsement before it gets noticed. Negative perceptions can be long term.

Before you allow just anybody on the podium to endorse you, be sure they can do so in earnest. Or get booed…

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