The Power of Endorsements. A LinkedIn Case Study.

Image courtesy of El Fabianaco's photostream

Image courtesy of El Fabianaco’s photostream

I started getting more active on LinkedIn a while back, and began adding all my former and current colleagues as connections.  I’d occasionally endorse someone here and there, and I noticed a few of them endorsed me back – and a case study was born.  I contemplated if there was any correlation to endorsing someone and them endorsing you.  I asked myself, does reciprocity exist on LinkedIn?  To find the answer, I spent two weeks endorsing friends, former co-workers, and even quite a few members of my own Marketing team – and the results were shocking.

Keep in mind, this is a small sampling of my experience – it is not an ‘end all, be all’.  The size of your network (as well as the quality) may alter your experience.

To make things fair, I did not endorse anyone that had endorsed me previously, and I made sure that I actually agreed with my endorsements, meaning I didn’t just endorse someone just for the case of the study.  I also endorsed no more than six people per business day, and waited a few weeks after my last endorsement, to account for those that only check LinkedIn sporadically.

“I must be swimming in endorsements by now,” I bet you are thinking.  Guess how many endorsements I received back?  20? 40? Go ahead, take a minute and think about it, while you check out some excerpts from my journal…

DAY ONE: “…let’s not forget everyone doesn’t go on LinkedIn daily, or specifically during business hours.  Let’s hope things pick up and I have some actual data to talk about.”

DAY TWO: “I got a bump of 2 endorsements today, but none of them were people I had endorsed previously. “

DAY THREE: “… maybe I have a bad profile picture, and I’m just not good looking enough (hahaha)….I also found out it takes about a day to get the endorsement notification email.”

DAY FOUR:  “Another day, 0 endorsements”

DAY FIVE:  “I took the day off in anticipation that I’d get some endorsements back.  I did not. “

…so if you said ‘Zero’, then the spoils go to you.  Not a single soul that I endorsed also endorsed me, not one person was motivated to make a few clicks on my profile.  Now, you may be thinking ‘perhaps that Tom guy is just a jerk’, and the thought crossed my head too, but instead of self- deprecating, I came to an astounding conclusion: LinkedIn endorsements carry more weight than you think.

Yes, an endorsement is just a simple click or two, but nobody is endorsing me simply because I endorsed them.  Over the course of the study I managed to pick up quite a few endorsements, but they were from connections that I didn’t even include in my case study.  This speaks volumes to me – it tells me that when someone endorses you, they really mean it.

To me, this is good news.  It means that the endorsements section of your profile actually carries some weight – maybe not as much as a recommendation does – but it still carries weight.  People are not handing out endorsements freely, and simply endorsing a connection does not mean you will get one in return.  This should help curb thoughts that the endorsements section is a cesspool of reciprocity, and that most have been gained via a ‘scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ dynamic.

So the next time you’re on LinkedIn and perusing the profiles, look at the endorsements.  While there are still those out there endorsing just in hopes of getting some in return, take it from me, not everyone has that mentality when it comes to endorsing.  Some are still earned from actually having the skills.

 Until Next time,

Tom Zobel

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