In 2012, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, started prompting users to endorse skills of their closest connections. Almost two years later, the big blue “What skills or expertise do your other connections have?” taunts me upon logging-in. “How well do you know these people, Dave? Just how connected are you, Dave? Hmm? HMM???” I want to prove my worth to LinkedIn.
I’m shown four pictures from my connections, each questioning whether the person knows about the particular skill. One, my father, stands out. I have no idea if he knows about “Global Sourcing.” Does it count if he’s heard about global sourcing? Or are endorsements only for use where I have first-hand knowledge of the person’s proficiency in the skill? But the question is whether he “knows about” global sourcing. Frustrated, I move on.
“Does Jenn M. know about Pets?” I’m positive she’s aware that pets are a thing. People have pets. She’s also a dog-sitter. I give my endorsement despite having no direct “pet” experience with her. I’m not sure what an expertise in “pets” is, but I don’t care so I continue.
“Does Michael L. know about Tactics?” I don’t really know Michael L. We met from a mutual friend and Michael connected to me, but I don’t know what he does. I haven’t a clue what kind of “Tactics” this could mean. I pass.
“Does Scott L. know about Nursing?” He’s a nurse, yes. “Does Chris H. know about Drinking?” I went to college with him, yes. Does Rinni K. know about Film Production?” Not really, but she thinks so; yes.
“Does Lisa A. know about Sex Therapy?” Wow, dunno. This requires a more thorough review. She also lists “prostitution” as a skill. I note that someone endorsed her for prostitution, but not sex therapy. That’s telling. I disconnect from Lisa A.
After 40 minutes, I’ve endorsed people based on my interpretation of the question, my understanding (or lack of understanding) of the skills, and an arbitrary standard I developed and revised with each click. I check my endorsements and see “courts” which, I’ll note, is not a skill.
You could say LinkedIn endorsements provide a mirror of reality, identifying skills your peers associate with you. But you’d be wrong. Endorsements are candy handed-out at Halloween, so overused and conflated with the Facebook “Like” they are devoid of value.
So endorse with caution, or reckless abandon-nobody’s paying attention (unless you’re a prostitute).