Tag Archives: marketing

LinkedIn Skill Endorsements: Flattery or faulty?

One of the best features of Linkedin has always been the ability to publicly recommend a colleague or connection. It’s like a resume reference who’s posting the reference check publicly for everyone to see (with your consent of course). Yes there may be some questionable reciprocal recommendations floating around, but for the most part, it takes time and effort to craft a worthy recommendation and since it’s public–your own reputation is potentially on the line if someone finds it to be false.

Almost a year ago (September 2012) LinkedIn rolled out a new feature ‘Skill Endorsements’, this is the “Lite” version of recommendations. If you don’t have time or feel fully comfortable personally recommending someone, you can endorse a few of their skills.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

You can always find two sides of a story: the positive is that skill endorsements are a great way to assess someone’s stated skills (if someone says they are an expert at something, but it’s not endorsed by their connections, you might question that expertise..). It validates anything someone states in his or her profile.

The bad part? Well a lowered barrier to entry means an overall reduction in quality endorsements. Recently I received six endorsements for ‘Creative Direction’ and while I was certainly flattered by the gesture, my creative director at work would probably die laughing if he noticed that (I wouldn’t blame him either).

And for that I don’t blame my connections who endorsed me for it–because I think probably it’s LinkedIn’s algorithm at fault. They probably received a blue box that said “Would you endorse Kelly Rusk for these skills?” And maybe the first 2 or 3 were relevant and they just hit accept for the whole lot.

I think the skill endorsement feature will stick around because LinkedIn is really pushing it at every opportunity. However, I think that tactic is also reducing its effectiveness (as per my example above).

What are skill endorsements REALLY good for?

The single most valuable application of this feature is not how others will perceive you as a result of your skill endorsements… It’s for your own benefit. Only your first degree connections can endorse your skills, so if you’ve focused on using LinkedIn to build a quality network, these are people who know you personally. And you understand the level of relationship you have with each of these people so you can use your own endorsements to paint a picture of how your first connections perceive you.

Are you being recognized for your strengths? Are you endorsed for skills you feel you excel at? Does it cover your experience and align with the wording in your profile? Are you receiving endorsements for people you’ve worked closely with?

If the answer to any of these questions is no–then it’s time to look inward and reflect on what you are doing and how you are putting yourself out there. Using the endorsements to improve yourself makes the feature one of the most valuable features of LinkedIn.

 And the icing on the cake?

Want to reconnect with someone in your network but not sure how to approach them out of the blue? Why not visit his or her profile and endorse a few skills you know to be relevant? It’s a passive engagement but he or she will receive an email about it and it might be a perfect primer for a long-overdue follow up email. Or perhaps someone you really want to strengthen your relationship with endorses your skills first? Why not send a nice thank you email and perhaps suggest a coffee outing? The skill endorsement can be a great professional door opener (or perhaps unlock-er?) to stay in touch.

How to get more skill endorsements from your connections

There are two methods to increasing your skill endorsements: ask and pay it forward. Personally I’m a little shy/timid about asking connections to endorse me–however I have been asked and do appreciate the reminder from those I’ve enjoyed working with but maybe didn’t immediately think to endorse. Be sure when asking to do so personally (not send out a blanket request to your connections) and only ask those who you are confident would be happy to endorse you.

Secondly you can pay it forward–I find this to be a really effective and interesting method. If you take the time to go through your connections and endorse some of your connections (and for your own reputation, please do so strategically and honestly!) LinkedIn will reward you by suggesting to your connections that they endorse you.

What do you think? Do you dig the skill endorsements? Do you question its validity? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Protecting your brand? From what? The brand police???

Unless you’re in consumer-packaged goods or fashion, you probably worry too much about your brand. Especially if your efforts are focused online, you most definitely are worried too much about your brand.

Now I will admit I *could* sit on both sides of this argument, but my real peeve is pulling the “brand” card like your brand makes a big difference in people’s lives, because chances are, it doesn’t. What *really* makes a difference – excellent customer service, open and honest communication and respecting your customers/prospects/stakeholders as real people.

Considering that you spend a lot of money “protecting your brand” only to have people reading your blog in an unbranded reader, or getting your emails as text or mangled HTML, or maybe just mis-read or represented by others. Is it really worth it?

It's not about the tools! It's the new way of marketing…

I’m almost embarassed to admit–but I’m just reading the Cluetrain Manifesto now. I’ve long known about the book, and specifically that it is about how the Internet has changed the way business works. Nevertheless, it’s an inspiring book and reaffirms a lot of the theories I’ve always believed, and I’ve also learned some new stuff too. There are two big takeaways I want to emphasize right here and now:

1. It’s not about the tools.

Despite the fact that this blog IS (mostly) about the tools, the whole concept and ideals behind social media are not. It’s about better communication because people are now able to connect, grow, learn on their own, at a faster pace than ever before. And businesses need to adapt. Those who’ve grown accustomed to ‘old’ marketing often dismiss terms like social media, user-generated content etc as a passing fad, or just another tool for the marketing toolkit, but it’s really so much more. Personally I’ve never been a fan of “interruption marketing” or broadcast media, simply because as a consumer, I hate tv commercialsand the fact that over 50% of my magazine is ads and especially those ugly flashing banners on site, they’re all in my way and wasting my valuable time. However, I love when a brand engages me with a fun flash game, or sends me emails with exclusive offers I can pass along, or even follows me on twitter and participates in my (sometimes) silly conversations. I really love it. And while some believe the old marketing is a necessary evil, I don’t. I’m done with it, before I ever really got started…

I started my career as a PR girl working in the email marketing biz. Like marketing, PR often gets a bad wrap, but for different reasons. I was always taught the key to PR was respecting your audiences and giving them exactly what they want in order to acheive your goals and objectives and that honesty, ethical behavior and transparency are absolutely essential. It makes perfect sense to me, and I saw it as very relatable to email marketing, which is probably why it was so easy for me to understand, embrace and tell others about. (BTW I still blog about email marketing, over at Tamara Gielen’s Be Relevant! Blog)

2. Sadly, though the book was written nearly 10 years ago (eons in Internet years…) So many companies still don’t get it.

By “it” I mean the fact that “mass marketing” is no longer effective, that employees are a company’s greatest asset and that open, honest and personal dialogue between a company and its customers is the new key to success (these are the points Cluetrain Manifesto is really driving home). I’m only now realizing the reason I get all this social media/online stuff is that as a teenager I was secretly a big geek–on newsgroups, IRC, early bulletin boards, etc. I loved that I was able to learn and get to know people potentially on the other side of the world. I’m super curious by nature and the Internet has always been my portal to ‘the rest of the world’ outside the suburb I grew up in. Now though the tools have evolved and changed greatly, although Facebook and MySpace and the likes have brought these things into the mainstream, really it’s all the same. In fact, in 1999 I joined a local nightlife website which became my obsession for years, it was membership driven, had bulletin boards, the ability to ‘friend’ other users, share photos and toggle event attendance… It *was* a social network, and it was a huge part of me, before I even knew what the term social network was!

Ok, wait, back to my main point here. The point about companies getting “it” has been proven 100 times over. Take Google for example – have you ever seen a Google TV ad? What about banner ads? How did YOU here about Google?(My mom actually told me about it!) What about its slogan ‘don’t be evil’ and have you taken a peek at the Googleplex lately? It’s pretty obvious Google has evolved into the type of company that embraces new ideals brought on by the communications shift, and I don’t have to tell you it’s working for them. Consequently, not only is Google bringing in bazillions of dollars ever quarter, it’s got hundreds (probably thousands, actually) of brand evangelists walking around–employees that is…Who doesn’t love working with those who absolutely love their jobs?

I haven’t posted in a while, so please excuse my wacky tangents. My time for blogging is tighter than ever, and the hardest part is finding inspiration for writing (I could write for hours on end, so long as I’m inspired)… If you have any great topics, ideas, or suggestions, drop me a line at kelly(at)web2dotwhat.com or, of course, comments are always open!