LinkedIn's Skills Endorsements feature has certainly attracted its fair share of criticism, particularly in its early days. One person I know even described it as "the gamification of LinkedIn".
In English speaking countries, when someone visits your profile, they are offered a selection of skills - which you may or may not actually possess - with which to endorse you. Some of those suggestions may already be on your profile, but occasionally suggestions for other skills are offered to them.
Whilst the random suggestions have become more relevant and appropriate in recent months, I still find it odd that LinkedIn offers skill suggestions that you don't already have on your profile.
That aside - what should you do when someone endorses you for a skill or expertise?
Essentially you have two choices:
1) Remove it
Very often removing the endorsement is well worth considering, particularly if you have a wide range of skills listed and that it's making you look like a Jack-of-all-trades. Over time, the Skills Endorsements feature has settled down, so that when you have more than fifty of a given skill, the list fairly accurately reflects your actual skill set, making it a very much more valuable feature. Visitors to your profile can then see at a glance where your true expertise lies.
In short, flattering as it is to be endorsed for a wide range of skills, too many skills listed could potentially detract from your core expertise - i.e. the things that you are genuinely good at. To remove endorsements, click the edit button in the endorsements section and different options will be available to you.
2) Accept it - graciously
I recently suggested that when someone looks at your LinkedIn profile, you take the trouble to thank them. One or two people got in touch with me to suggest this was "groundbreaking advice" and that thanking people was the last thing on their mind. Yet to me it's a common courtesy surely? Would you ignore someone or thank them if they came into your store to have a look around? Clearly you would acknowledge and thank them if you knew what was good for you.
Unless you are very popular, or a hardcore networker, you probably won't have the time to thank absolutely everyone who endorses you. But just occasionally, particularly if you can see a potential connection, simply hover your mouse over their photo where they have endorsed you and click Send a Message (or View Profile if you want to check them out first). Don't go into sales mode, just thank them politely for taking the time to look at your profile, for adding their endorsement and then perhaps ask if anything caught their eye on your profile. Guess what, more often than not they will reply - dialogue takes place and a relationship can develop.
What's amazing is that the vast majority of LinkedIn users rarely bother to thank or acknowledge people who look at their profile or who give them an endorsement. It's as though we see normal standards of human interaction as being less important when networking online than when networking face-to-face. So for those who do take the trouble to engage with people courteously online, then this is inevitably going to differentiate you and potentially enhance your professional identity.
I don't want to come across as 'moralising'; that's not what this is about. But I do know that from personal experience, those who take the trouble to engage at a human level with people who show interest in you and your profile, invariably build more of the relationships that they are looking for online - and more robust relationships at that.
And yes, you could still thank someone for an endorsement - and then remove it if it's not entirely appropriate to the professional identity that you're looking to create on LinkedIn. A tiny courtesy touch can make the difference between a relationship remaining static or moving on to bigger things.
I'm very fortunate to have received several skills endorsements on LinkedIn, and wherever possible I'll try to thank as many people as I can. So I apologise here and now if I haven't contacted you! Any endorsement is very much appreciated - thank you.
Networking, whether face-to-face or online, has always been about people buying people. Even online, simple courtesies can make all the difference to the speed at which relationships progress, and in the process be a key differentiator for you and your business.
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