LinkedIn endorsements and other mysteries

Being an independent trainer, I use a number of online tools to raise my profile. ┬áRecentlyImage I’ve been trying to fathom how LinkedIn selects the words which pop up as areas to be endorsed. I have some vague memory of including some keywords in my profile at some point in the past, and though I can no longer find them in my profile, I suspect that whatever I wrote there will now appears as an endorsable skill. Luckily, I didn’t include my hobbies there.

The endorsement thing is a bit of a game, and some days I play and on other days I can’t be bothered. I am delighted that so many complete strangers have endorsed me for skills that they have never witnessed. I think it’s a attempt at a grown-up version of Facebook “likes”. I would’t take it too seriously.

There is one really useful feature of the endorsement game for me – each time I go into Linked in and the 4 boxes pop up, I am reminded of people with whom I have had little contact recently, and it prompts me to re-establish contact. In this way, I am beginning (slowly) to get back in touch with LinkedIn contacts who were fading into the mists of time and memory. Since I became a freelance trainer, I have made it a policy of contacting a couple of people a day for no good reason, and the endorsements boxes not only prompt me to do so, but give me a ready made list of today’s contacts. Sometimes I spoil myself and contact three people. I get work from referrals, word of mouth, repeat work for existing clients and sowing seeds and occasionally remembering to water them. The moment I endorse someone, it sows a seed. I am careful, I hope, only to endorse people for something I believe they possess. That prompts them to think of me – and in a couple of cases already has yielded work or at least a conversation.

Meanwhile, I do see some good in LinkedIn. I like the degrees of separation notifier and I like the fact that, since people theoretically use LinkedIn as an online networking tool, they are prepared to forge introductions. So if I see someone useful (yes, I will be mercenary and use that word) I can see how many degrees of separation exist between us and ask someone to introduce me to someone who can introduce me to them. This is no different than meandering up to someone I know at a conference and asking to be introduced to someone else. And it works very well.

Like anything, LinkedIn is only as good as our use of it. If the internet is,as Stephen Fry said, a city with fashionable areas, sleazy areas, leisure facilities, nice and horrible people etc, then LinkedIn represents a rather mixed neighbourhood, populated by some very nice people, some shady people only there to sell their wares and me. And I can choose where I go within the neighbourhood, choose who to speak to and choose my own friends.

And now, I had better go and see who has endorsed me today.