Last fall, LinkedIn launched added the Skills & Expertise section of its member profiles and along with it Endorsements. Unlike Recommendations on LinkedIn, you can endorse someone with the click of a mouse. So is that a good thing or a bad thing? Are you impressed when you see lawyers with dozens of endorsements? Or does the ease with which endorsements can be given make them worthless?
In her article, Why LinkedIn endorsements are worthless, Susanne Lucas notes that the “click here” convenience of endorsements dilutes the impact of the endorsement. You could be endorsed by a colleague or even an opposing counsel who knows you well and can truly attest to your litigation skills. Or you could be endorsed by someone who doesn’t really know you well and has no idea how you perform as a trial lawyer.
“What’s the difference between LinkedIn endorsements and hitting the ‘like’ button on your cousin’s Facebook status update about taking Rover to the dog groomer?” asks Rene Shimada Seigel in her article for Inc. Why LinkedIn Endorsements Will Vanish. Seigel makes the argument that “LinkedIn endorsements trivialize the value of a very useful site.” Seigel predicts that by the end of 2013 LinkedIn will get rid of endorsements because they are essentially meaningless.
But for now endorsements are here so if you’ve enabled the Skills & Expertise section of your LinkedIn profile, use it wisely. Here are my Top 3 Tips for using LinkedIn endorsements.
1. Give them sparingly and sincerely. Don’t endorse someone just because they’ve endorsed you. That type of quid pro quo is prohibited by most states’ ethics rules.
2. Manage the endorsements you receive. You can manage the visibility of all of your endorsements from your “Edit Profile” page. Don’t show endorsements from people you don’t know well. If you don’t know them well, how can the attest to your skills?
3. Thank people who endorse you. Send a message on LinkedIn acknowledging the endorsement. And use the endorsement as an opportunity to arrange a face to face meeting or coffee or lunch.
Finally, know your state’s ethics rules. Some states don’t allow attorneys to hold themselves out as “experts” unless they are board certified in a particular area of law. LinkedIn’s section is entitled “Skills & Expertise,” so that may obviate any ethics issues. But know your state’s rules, and stay away from quid pro quo endorsements.
So – at least for now – endorsements are here. To stay? That remains to be seen. I’d love to hear your thoughts about endorsements. Do you like them? Do you give them? Have you enabled the Skills & Expertise section of your profile?