This is a question that I get asked a lot from clients when I am showing them how to use LinkedIn to build relevant connections, create influence and help grow their business.
And it’s a valid question. One that I had to contemplate the answer to and then dig a little deeper for some answers.
Before I answer this question though, let me briefly explain what LinkedIn Recommendations and Endorsements as quite frankly, you would be forgiven to have not actually noticed them on your LinkedIn profile.
A LinkedIn Recommendation is essentially a written testimonial about you and is generally provided by a client, a colleague, a boss or even a general character reference.
Endorsements are like little nods of approval where your connections have elected to endorse you for a particular skill that you have listed on your profile.
So, are they useful and should you be prioritising collecting these as part of your LinkedIn activity?
In short, yes and yes and here’s why.
Personally, I think the ‘Recommendations’ feature could potentially contribute great value to a person’s profile. I’m a big believer in testimonials. I know that there are some people who are sceptical about their validity, however the ones that I have collected over the years both for myself and for my clients have always been sincere.
They would contribute greater value if people actually noticed them.
The endorsements? Meh, there should be some more transparency and education to users about these. I searched my head off on Google trying to find any conclusive evidence as to what endorsements actually contribute to a profile. I didn’t find anything compelling.
There was a time when LinkedIn actively promoted endorsing people by prompting you every time you logged on to LinkedIn to endorse people you knew. Now that they don’t do this – I barely notice any endorsement action happening. Which to me begs the question – is this a necessary feature?
My impression is that they are included in your profile to act as ‘keywords’ – which would help to increase your profile’s visibility in searches.
If they are to provide a viewer with genuine direction to a person’s skill set – then perhaps LinkedIn should consider bringing back the prompts to endorse people or encourage individuals to use this feature with a bit more enthusiasm.
What surprises me slightly is that both Recommendations and Endorsements seem to be ranked a bit as bottom feed dwellers.
And by this, I mean that they sit right down at the bottom of your profile. From what I know about social media profile layouts, generally the least prioritised or used features are placed in the least viewed areas.
For example, you can often tell when Facebook is about to make a feature obsolete as they’ll move it to the right hand side column or add it to a dropdown list somewhere that no-one ever uses. Then, one day, you’ll visit your Facebook profile and the feature is gone.
Recommendations and endorsements sit underneath your summary, your experience, your education details etc. They even sit under your volunteer experience!
From what I have gauged anecdotally, their lack-lustre positioning means that on the whole, a good majority of people don’t really know that these features exist. No-one knows about them, because no-one scrolls that far down!
But I am assuming that this is the difference between a marketer’s interpretation of Recommendations and Endorsements versus a Recruiters interpretation. Typically a resume will show references at the end of the doc. In marketing, we want to shine the light on positive feedback from others – big time!
Rant about feature placement aside, I actually do think these features are a valuable contribution to your LinkedIn profile.
Recommendations are just like testimonials in that they provide some social proof around your personal brand positioning. Particularly if they have been strategically sourced and include testament from key people within your industry. I would encourage you as a priority to get people to provide you with a Recommendation on LinkedIn.
I would also recommend that as best practice you do fill out your ‘Skills’ on your profile.
You can include up to 50 skills. Make sure you reorder your skills to firstly include the top three most relevant skills, then the rest in descending order of importance. That way if someone does venture down to the bottom of your feed and figure out that pressing the plus button on display will endorse you – they can!
Jane Hillsdon is a Marketing Consultant specialising in marketing strategy and social media marketing for small business. She lives and breathes her purpose which is to help small businesses connect, influence and grow.