40 great comments!

Open Networkers And Now Open Endorsers. Oh My!

endorsements, linkedin endorsements, A Social, credibility, Endorsers, LinkedIn, Linkedin Connections, Linkedin Network, linkedin open networker, networkers, New Social Network, Social Business, social networkI got a LinkedIn connection request from an open networker today. Always makes me cringe. Especially if it’s a generic request with no attempt to personalize the invite.


Because I don’t want to be a number. I don’t want to be one of someone’s 10,000. A token citizen of your LinkedIn kingdom.

So I always hesitate.

It’s funny because this argument (open or more selective connecting on LinkedIn) is what originally brought Neal Schaffer and I together (through a disagreement on LinkedIn strategy). And he is now one of the people I trust the most on how to strategically use sites like LinkedIn to maximize social business.  

What I had not seen yet when I visited the profile of today’s requester was that the game on LinkedIn has changed yet again with the new endorsements feature. How?

There are now “open endorsers”. And there are groups on LinkedIn just for this purpose. Yuck.

open, endorsements, open netowrkers, LinkedIn

What are LinkedIn endorsements you ask?

Basically they are a way to let your 1st level connections (people who should know you better than most) confirm what you do well or add skills to your profile. With one click, you can add credibility to someone’s profile. These are much easier than getting LinkedIn recommendations. But they are also worth a lot less to many folks who look for more substantive thoughts about you.

But the idea is that if you crowd source an opinion from your connections that it might actually be more relevant. And LinkedIn very likely will use your top three endorsed skills to direct better traffic to your profile.

Makes sense, right?

And for this reason, I think you need to play along. In a positive and constructive way, of course.

But where are we heading with this? Over-connecting and asking strangers to endorse our skills so we can become a bigger cheese on a social network?

If you are a job seeker or someone who’s business success relies on building a network, I can see the temptation. It’s also tempting to use your LinkedIn connections as your promotional mailing list. Should I Email My Entire LinkedIn Network? (Hint: No).

But if every skill you have is endorsed by 99+ people, then you have no skill at all.

The picture below is the skills section for the person that requested my connection this AM:

LinkedIn, endorsements, open, networking, strategy

In my view, 99+ for everything = 0. Worthless.  No help to me if I’m a recruiter or hiring manager. You see, it’s not the quantity, it’s my ability to determine your relative strengths.

Like I said in a prior post on connecting with everyone without thinking – if we’re just going to connect with everyone eventually, then let’s ask Linked just to connect us all into one big network and start over on a new social network.

It’s now also true about people who misuse the endorsements feature. Scary.

What do you think about open endorsements? Am I wrong?

Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
Tags: | | | | | | |
Categories: Career Networking
  • glenloock

    Tim, I do not think you are wrong. In fact I agree with you whole heartedly. If you have 99+ endorsements for each of your skills you must be the best person on earth and then the question is why are you only at the level you are at, shouldn’t you be the CEO? And if you are not the CEO what is wrong with you? I would think that if you have 99+ endorsements for all of you skills that would cause employers and recruiters to overlook you because they do not trust your endorsements.

    I have other issues with the endorsements, because people endorse you for what they think you need or want not what you truly are.

    Just my thoughts

  • Thanks Glen – I’m not sure you have to be CEO to have a lot of endorsements but I agree with you re: getting overlooked – especially in a competitive job market. No one wants to hire a generalist (it seems) these days. Appreciate all of those comments!

  • Alan Allard

    Tim, you are spot on.

  • Thanks Alan. It will be interesting to see how the endorsement process matures…

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  • Tim,

    Thanks for the mention – and the memories – my friend! LinkedIn has come a long way over the years, and we have become an open networking society (I believe Twitter is one huge open network) as a part of it. That being said, as I blogged about some time ago, I’m not even an open networker anymore because of all of the spammers who simply want to connect with you to get your email address. I will connect with real professionals who might have reached out to me after reading one of my books or blog posts, but I end up archiving (or reporting for spam) more than half of the invites I get these days…

    As for Endorsements, I have yet to write my own blog post about the subject, but all I can say are two things:

    1) If you want to endorse someone, write them a real recommendation instead.

    2) Instead of endorsing someone, why not spend the time more wisely by investing it in engaging with your current network or reaching out to someone?

    There may still be disagreement about the whole LION movement, but there is unison in that most professionals I meet don’t understand – or like – the whole Endorsement feature. As you say in your comment reply below, it will be very interesting to see how it all evolves…

  • Hi Tim,

    I agree with you and @nealschaffer:disqus 100% on the subject of endorsements (and open endorsers, especially). I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago describing the good, the bad and the ugly… You should see some of the requests that have come my way! 🙂


    Happy Networking!

    Stacy Donovan Zapar

  • Hello Tim,

    Thank you for such well spotted article on LinkedIn new endorsement system- Open Networkers and Now Open Endorsers.:) It’s fantastic!

    Well, now the question is what is the way out? Recently, someone
    endorsed me for the skills which barely I feel I am the best on it and the
    person who endorsed me, I rarely can remember him. So what can I do? – I just
    hide that person from the list he endorse me.

    However, while I am hiding someone from my skills endorsement list,
    I have a couple of questions in mind and I am puzzling to find the answer.

    1. What will be the person’s feeling when he/she will notice I removed him/her from the
    list he endorsed me, though I don’t want to hurt anyone feelings.

    2. It’s very awful task for me- Since I need to pay continuous attention to hide
    someone and maintain the skills list organized which I believe it should be as
    a professional.

    Please share your idea, if you think there are some other solutions as well.

  • Interesting article—these endorsements are like eating junk food. They are fast but not as satisfying as a personally written endorsement.

  • Thx Stacy for the comment and link to the post. Will take a look. 🙂

  • That’s a good way to think about it. Sometimes potentially mindless actions like these (if misused) can harm the credibility of someone’s profile. It will be interesting to see how/if LinkedIn adjusts to user actions.

  • Hi Muhammad – Thanks for your comment. This is the risk in integrating an endorsement system that is too easy. People will want to interact with you and this is the most obvious option (especially since LinkedIn is prompting us to do it). As far as your questions, here are my thoughts:

    1. Based on the volume of endorsements happening now, I seriously doubt that someone will notice that you have removed their endorsement. So I wouldn’t worry.

    2. The whole point (originally) is that the combination of all these endorsements should create a fairer picture of your value. So if we do too much to modify the endorsements of others, the truth (or potential truth) about your value will be masked. Agree?

    Perhaps the solution is to give everyone a certain number of endorsements each month and you can spend it like $. 🙂

  • Thx Neal –

    While I completely understand LinkedIn’s desire to create more engagement among first level connections (and maybe, though somewhat flawed, the endorsement is re-introducing people to each other), this system seems to have been introduced with very little restriction or guidelines (perhaps on purpose).

    I like the idea of crowd sourcing someone’s real value vs. just accepting what they say on their keyword-stuffed profile. But unless users are forced to be more discerning with their endorsements, we will have issues.

    The idea of someone endorsing a stranger for a skill/keyword based on a request in a “open endorsers” group makes my stomach turn.

    I’d like to see LinkedIn only allow endorsements among those 1st level connections that have either worked together or had some other legit affiliation. To simply allow “1st level connection” to drive ability to endorse, ignores the fact that most people’s 1st level connections are people they either met once at a networking event – or more dangerous – never have met or spoken or even read each other’s profile.

    Love your two suggestions above. Here’s mine:

    Start communicating with your connections. Think before you endorse.

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  • good stuff Tim. Agree you should treat these similar to the recommendation feature and make sure you really can endorse them but then again – why not just write the recommendation is a thought I have had as well. I think if you used in this way it can give a good overall of someone – but not if it is spammed over like your example.

  • Thanks Glen – the only problem with recommendations is that they take time to write and are a relatively more complicated activity online vs. a “like” or the new “endorsement”. If we could have things to do to support our network that are easier but just as effective, I think we’d all be happy.

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  • Greg Johnson

    Great post! Like both you and Neal said, the idea of soliciting open endorsements does cheapen the endorsements significantly. I also do not like the way LinkedIn promotes endorsing people for particular skills chosen by LinkedIn every time I go to their profile. That being said, if you have content that is relevant to your subject matter expertise and skills, it will be more likely that people who do not know you personally to endorse you. I look at the endorsements as a reflection of my online presence, and how well I am getting my message across.

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