8 Ways to Make LinkedIn Endorsements Work for You and Your Network

Print Friendly

8-Ways-to-Make-LinkedIn-Endorsements-Work-for-You-and-Your-Network-V1 copy

LinkedIn Endorsements. Nothing in the history of LinkedIn has created so much “buzz” in the online community as this newest feature. For those who know me, you’ll appreciate my perspective: 1) I don’t tend to waste time voicing a positive or negative opinion of the changes – they are what they are, and this is LinkedIn implementing their own vision that we will all have to adapt to, and 2) I usually like to have some historical perspective before I blog on anything new, similar to how I didn’t blog about the new LinkedIn profile user interface before I had a chance to see my own.

With the advent of the new UI from LinkedIn, one thing is clear: LinkedIn Endorsements are here to stay and are becoming an integral part of our profile – and personal brand. Did you know that since their launch LinkedIn users have made more than 550 million endorsements? Therefore, the purpose of this post is not to question why LinkedIn created Endorsements (or why LinkedIn never created a way of opting-out of Endorsements, although you can now hide them from display), whether you like or dislike them, whether this is merely an attempt by LinkedIn to generate more page visits, whether all of your connections truly have an equal opportunity to assess all of your skills and expertise, or even if it’s true that in the words of one LinkedIn User Endorsements “…have become the modern “how are you” that someone says automatically without thinking and likely without caring either.” On the contrary, this post is all about wanting to help you answer these same questions that I have received from so many of my friends:

What should I do about these Endorsements? Should I endorse back those who endorse me? How do I promote those Skills that I want to be endorsed for?

With a little out-of-the-box thinking, I want to help you best leverage LinkedIn Endorsements, so here are 8 ways to make this newest LinkedIn feature start working for YOU!

LinkedIn Endorsements – The Outbound Approach

Let’s first look at how you can make Endorsements work for you by endorsing the profiles of others in your network. Why would you want to spend a minute or two endorsing others in your network? For many reasons…

1) Endorse Your Connections for Engagement

Similar to how you post status updates to engage with others in your network or “Like” a friend’s post on Facebook, an Endorsement acts in a similar way. That being said, a LinkedIn Endorsement is one of the strongest social signals you could send another professional, the strongest being a LinkedIn Recommendation. It acknowledges that they have a particular skill, and actually will help strengthen their personal branding without them having to do anything. It will also probably prompt LinkedIn to let that user know by email that you have endorsed them – creating a potential spark for further engagement.

2) Help Your Connections with Their Personal Branding

With the advent of LinkedIn Endorsements, others in your network may already be shaping the perception of your personal brand without you knowing it through endorsing you. I’ll cover how you can manage your own Endorsements later in this post, but for now let’s consider that some of your connections might have been endorsed for skills that might not speak best to their professional brand. Your endorsing your network for the skills that would make the strongest contribution to their personal brand is helping to improve the quality of their Endorsements – and, thus, their professional branding.

3) Leave Your Footprint on Your Network’s Profile

Have you ever posted on someone’s Facebook Wall before? It’s a great way to communicate with someone so long as what you are posting is something that their friends would all be interested in your seeing while meeting the approval of your friend’s censor. Facebook Wall posts become a part of someone’s profile – and LinkedIn Endorsements work the same. So if there is someone in your network that you want your own personal brand to be aligned with, wouldn’t you want visitors to that profile to potentially see your Endorsement and click through to view your profile? You should never be endorsing someone for self-promotion, but assuming that your endorsement is genuine, your photo, however small as it might be, might be seen by a lot of people that could help you reach your LinkedIn objective whatever it might be.

4) Pay It Forward

Digging your well before you’re thirsty is all about helping out those in your network before they ask for it. You never know how an endorsement might help them in the future, so why not Pay It Forward and endorse them the next time you visit their profile for whatever reason? It definitely cannot hurt, and it just might help out someone in your network without them – or you – realizing it.

LinkedIn Endorsements – The Inbound Approach

Let’s now take a look at how to make those endorsements that you receive from others work best for you.

1) Control Who’s Endorsement You Show

Some of you may have been taken aback when I recommended you show your own photo in the profile of others in your network. If you are in this camp, you’ll be happy to know that you do have the ability to choose who’s Endorsements you show on a person by person, skill by skill basis. Why would you want to limit the visibility of any precious Endorsements that you might have received? Two potential reasons come to mind here: 1) The faces of the 12 most recent endorsers appear prominently on your profile for each Skill, so wouldn’t you want these to be the most “influential” people that your target audience for your profile would immediately recognize? On the other hand, 2) there are some who, while being in your network, you might not want their face to be part of your profile for whatever reason. Being able to control who’s Endorsement you show can be a potentially powerful feature that you should at least consider based on your own particular situation.

2) Choose Your Skills to Align with Your Personal Brand

Look at the Skills that you have received the most Endorsements for: Do they best represent how you want your brand to be perceived? You have the ability to list up to 50 Skills, so if there is a skill that you are receiving Endorsements for that you don’t feel represent your brand, manage the choice of Skills that others in your network have by deleting out those Skills that you don’t feel best represent you.

3) Take Endorsement Choices as Invaluable Feedback

Big consumer brands have huge budgets for research groups to try understand what people like, or dislike, about their brand. In the same way, think of LinkedIn Endorsements as invaluable feedback from your network as to where they see your value. While it is true that many people might just accept those skills that appear at the top of your profile that you have no control over, there are more than enough of your connections who will carefully choose from those skills listed on your profile to ensure that your brand is accurately reflected in their eyes. Use this information about your brand as invaluable feedback coming from your trusted network.

4) Deepen Your Relationships by Thanking Those Who Endorse You

Reach out to those who endorsed you in a meaningful way, and thank them. Take it one step further and deepen your relationship by asking them: “What can I do to be of help to you?”

Note that there is one piece of advice I specifically left out of this blog post: The quid pro quo Endorsement. Don’t do it. Instead, if you really want to thank those who endorsed you, write them a LinkedIn Recommendation, which as mentioned earlier will still have far greater weight as social currency.

I’ve also intentionally left out the potential that some see of LinkedIn adding Skills and Endorsements to their search results.  One should align social media activities with what is reality instead of what might become real. But, obviously, should this happen, Endorsements will have a much bigger meaning for the branding of professionals AND businesses.

I’m not going to end this blog post with asking you what you think of LinkedIn Endorsements, because that is irrelevant. You have the option of not displaying your Endorsements, but after reading the above, do you think that is the right decision to make?

Therefore, the most important question becomes: What other ways do you see yourself using Endorsements to benefit your personal branding and your network?

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
Thank you @FlyingTern ! https://t.co/NGWMWBp32h - 35 mins ago
Neal Schaffer
LinkedIn Ebook


  1. says

    I really liked this article Neil! I have to say, I always find it a little strange when I receive endorsements from people I have just connected with and don’t really know so well. It kind of feels like cheating , don’t you think? I haven’t earned it so I always feel like it’s not right to have them but I now get your point. It’s mutually beneficial option that I will now take a little more seriously- thanks!

    • says

      Glad you enjoyed my perspective Chloe. It’s weird in that LinkedIn is a network that people take most seriously, but they now have a component in Endorsements that can be taken as lightly or as seriously as you want. I say try to leverage those that receive wisely and pay it forward by giving to those in your network in a smart and engaging way.

      • says

        I agree with you Neil: “It’s weird in that LinkedIn is a network that people take most seriously, but they now have a component in Endorsements that can be taken as lightly or as seriously as you want.”

        It is weird. Many experts say that casualness on the part of Linkedin will cause casualties, while many other people say to lighten up and don’t develop such a tragic view of it.

        Either way, this is why comedians say, “comedy is tragedy revisited”:

        I agree with Sir Ken of Ted Talks who says, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong you’ll never come up with anything original.”

        Professional networking to me is about inspiring the dignity of personhood on social platforms – not to profile humans as workaholics.

        Emotional and social intelligence is brought out in people when they think about and work harder on developing their people skills, rather than just tweaking and profiling their technical knowledge.

        The most important and the most highly paid form of intelligence in America today is social intelligence, the ability to get along well and network with other people. Social intelligence is also known as your people skills.

        Ed Brophy,
        Open Endorser’s Group

  2. says

    Nice post. I’ll add one employment law nuance. Supervisors and Managers should take a moment to think twice about endorsing subordinate employees and what might happen if that employee is subsequently terminated for poor performance, or the like. Will a LinkedIn endorsement undermine the Employer’s position that it terminated the employee for poor performance? Similar (and other) issues with an employee endorsing a boss.

    • says

      Thanks James! You bring up a great point: Many companies will not allow their employees to write Recommendations for other employees. I assume that Employment Law holds the same for Endorsements … perhaps this is a topic for a future blog post, James? 😉

  3. says

    I really appreciate the perspective here. I liked when we could add skills, but when the endorsements started it was hard to know what to do with them. In my training classes I have been talking about using them as an excuse to connect with others (either by thanking them for the endorsement or by endorsing the other person) as long as you could do it with legitimacy. I’ll be interested to see if this changes anything for people during the “search” process. Any thoughts there?

    • says

      Thanks Vicki! I actually referred to that here:

      I’ve also intentionally left out the potential that some see of LinkedIn adding Skills and Endorsements to their search results. One should align social media activities with what is reality instead of what might become real. But, obviously, should this happen, Endorsements will have a much bigger meaning for the branding of professionals AND businesses.

      LinkedIn has had Skills for several months and never introduced it as a search filter. I don’t expect things to change for Endorsements. If you own their HR package which allows you to search using more filters, however, I could see them integrating those results to help recruiters better find suitable candidates. But this is mere conjecture, and I would never make a recommendation based on assumption.

      Hope the above makes sense!

      • says

        ►How LinkedIn Plans to Disrupt the World:

        Linkedin envisions a tool that can “digitally represent” both “every economic opportunity in the world” and “every skill required to gain those opportunities.”


        So in other words, a Linkedin client is looking for somebody to direct a movie, design a special type of bridge, yodel on Youtube, or for whatever type of economic opportunity you can possibly imagine.

        Linkedin will know the expertise required beforehand that a person would most likely need to grab those opportunities. The technology will then be engineered to direct clients to the profiles of LinkedIn users who have every type of skill set imaginable.

        Open Endorsers are Open Networkers, only they have more skills.

        P.S. Here’s what I’m beginning to see more and more of when I visit someone’s LinkedIn profile, The pop up box will suggest that I endorse somebody’s skills that are in fact the skills they really have listed!

        The box will ask you, “Does (name) have these skills or expertise?

        So if people are endorsing you for the wrong skills, you need to get Open Endorsers to go to your pop up box and type in the skills that you really have.

        Eventually you won’t continue getting endorsed for the wrong skills.

        I’m surprised so few people have figured this out yet.

  4. says

    Makes sense to me. I don’t see them (skills or endorsements) as part of search either, but wonder if they are “weighted” in the search. Of course, we may never really know what goes into the algorithm. :)

      • says

        In view of what your article here stated first Neil, and what this Linkedin investor article below is also now revealing about algorithms, is that it’s better to start out working on improving the way LinkedIn Endorsements can work for you now, then it is to wait. Is that correct?

        “These pieces of data will inform some kind of algorithm eventually to create a score that LinkedIn can give you for that skill which is relative to everyone else’s score for that skill.”:


        Everybody has to start out somewhere..Perhaps your new or just getting started and haven’t attracted many contacts yet. So the initial approach then I believe, is to begin applying the principles of “social proof” and create an unrivaled perception in the way you present your skills and personal branding – then learn from results as Linkedin and you evolve forward.

        Open Endorsers are Open Networkers – only they have more skills.

        Join the Open Endorsers Community here:


        • says

          I agree, Ed, that Endorsements could be used as part of some type of algorithm to “score” you. Either way, in my opinion, it’s not about feeling positive or negative about them but in learning how to best utilize them to help your achieve whatever objective you might have for being on LinkedIn.

          • says

            Linkedin Finally Giving SEO Weight to Skill Endorsements:

            I’m not quite sure how this works yet Neil, but Linkedin is beginning to give some SEO weight to skill endorsement keywords now, like you said they would.

            For example, I went to “people” on my Linkedin home page and typed in “System Testing.” David Carpin (open endorser) came up #3 on the first page of Linkedin’s people search for “System Testing,” yet those words are not listed anywhere else on his profile, except as a skill.

            I did the same for “property & casualty insurance”. Open endorser, “Mary (Wassink) Ganis” comes up #6. Property & Casualty Insurance” is listed as one of her skills, yet those keywords do not appear anywhere else on her profile.

            Also what I found interesting, is that listing skills that are not listed as Linkedin skills per se, are still found as well. This could be very helpful if something is a popular keyword at Google Adwords, but isn’t yet listed as a skill using Linkedin’s Skill & Expertise tool.

            I listed Dream Big Dreams as a skill and I beat every entrepreneur and self-made millionaire on Linkedin. Imagine that.

            Open Endorsers are Open Networkers…only they have more skills.

            Kind regards,
            Ed Brophy
            Open Endorser Group

  5. says

    The best article I’ve read so far regarding endorsements. I completely agree with you. Spot on with each point. One thing I did hear from a recent post on Mashable was how an element of friction might curb any endorsements from folks fishing for their own or that have little familiarity with your actual experience in the displayed skilled. The friction would mean removing the automatic prompt that is profiled with skills suggestions at the top of profiles you visit. I agree that removing that would make endorsing a more intentional action and deture folks who are breezing by and clicking the first thing they see in the name of quantity over quality.

    • says

      Thanks Adam! As for that Mashable post, which came out the same day as mine (today), that was an op-ed piece. LinkedIn is going to do what they are going to do, so rather than talk about how people might feel about it or how LinkedIn can improve it, I concentrate on how to maximize the here and now. Completely different perspective.

  6. says

    Very nice job Neal of stepping back, letting the dust settle and offering a variety ways to leverage the new Endorsements feature. Yes, there have been detractors to Endorsements. It does seem like LinkedIn’s version of a “poke.” I liken it to a way to simply say “howdy” in a single click. I’ve used it for that purpose. One technical question/point: in tracking the email alerts for Endorsements, it appears that you can endorse someone more than once for the same Skill. And you get an email alert every time. Do you see that? If true, does it tend to detract from the feature? It might *appear* the connection is randomly endorsing.

    • says

      Thanks Joel. To respond to your comment, what you’re seeing is the emergence of LinkedIn as a platform for engagement with other profiles. Similar to how if someone pokes or tags you too many times in Facebook and “spams” your notifications, I see the same thing emerging on LinkedIn with those who potentially abuse the Endorsements functionality. Time will tell…

  7. says

    I had to reject an endorsement once. Due to how it read and a misspelled word. The linkedIN system asked me if I wanted to have the person revise it, so I did. and he did and I now use it. Last place I worked, most the engineers and other work associates, are on linkedIN because the big boss told them to find the time and make a profile. They had no real plan in place or anything. I’m still waiting for the person in charge of their Twitter account to follow me back. lol

  8. says

    Oops! I forgot to add the answer to your question Neal! I plan to focus in on the endorsements I’ve received and see how they match up with the 4 key skills I like to shed light on within my resume. I figure if I left a lasting impression on people to go out of their way to say something kind and positive about my performance, then how can that not be a good thing? Then I’ll balance their comments with what I currently see as my strong suits and go from there. Just perhaps those are the skills I should bring to the forefront on my resume, at the very least, mention them.

  9. says

    Interesting Neal, thanks.

    I’d been wondering what to do about people Endorsing me for Skills I barely have, or worse that I know they have no idea whether they are my skills or not.

    When I had a chance to look at Edit Profile, I can see that I can show or not show ALL Endorsement, or on a Skill by Skill, Person by Person (Tick Box) basis. This is good, as I was accepting everything to start with & now want to go back and have a solid look at who is endorsing & for what.

    So pretty much that blows the complaints out of the water – the ability to control not only what you accept & who you endorse (I only endorse people for things I know they are strong & well known in), but also what you show to an exact Endorsement level (by Skill & person Endorsing).

    Stop complaining about the inane-ness of it, and work with what you have and have control over I say!

    As other commenters have said, what a wonderful opportunity for you to do it right, whatever you think of the service, an opportunity to reach out to people and have a real connection with them because of an endorsement (either way!).

  10. says

    Great Article,
    I just wanted to add one note to think about. Know your company’s social media policy. Many companies today have a clear defined social media policy and in some cases taking part in giving or accepting any type of endorsements can be in violation of that policy.

  11. Hank Cohen says

    Well Neal as I wrote to you a few months back I think that endorsements as Linken-in has implemented them are a bad idea and your article has not changed my mind.

    It is important to compare this endorsement feature with the older recommendation feature. Recommendations were something that required that the person doing the recommending actually know something and be willing to put in some effort to write it down. As a result recommendations were usually thoughtful and helpful in understanding something about a person. Endorsements in contrast require no effort on the part of the endorser beyond a kind intention and a single mouse click. The kind intention is a good thing and a simple “like” a la Facebook, would be a reasonable vote of confidence. Unfortunately every day I get endorsements from kind hearted acquaintances for skills that they could not possibly know that I might or might not possess.

    As an example of the problem with endorsements I could add a skill such as biochemistry to my profile. Now I don’t really know a thing about biochemistry but I’d be willing to bet that I would be getting endorsements for that skill within a week. It happens when I go to Linked-in and it asks me if I want to endorse Fred McMurry for Fatherhood. (I’m showing my age) Who wouldn’t endorse Fred McMurry for Fatherhood, sure I’ll check the box. But the fact is that I don’t know anything at all about whether Fred McMurry was a good father or not. Who wants to endorse Joan Crawford for Motherhood?

    • says

      Greetings Hank. I’m really not discussing the like or hate of the new feature, but the fact that it’s now part of the platform and professionals should learn to leverage the functionality. I hear ‘ya that it’s not perfect by any means – and I also prefer Recommendations MUCH MORE than Endorsements – so I look at it is an experiment in crowdsourcing everyone’s skills graph through their LinkedIn connections.

      • Hank Cohen says

        I seriously think that endorsements are a waste of time. They may be fun to accumulate but HR folks will not use them for screening and hiring managers will not consider them in evaluations so what’s the point? Far better for a Linked-in user to have a few well considered recommendations than a plethora of meaningless endorsement.

        As I see it these endorsements are a debased currency that will degrade the value of Linked-in long term. As such I just don’t see the point in trying to glean any benefit. I know, based on the endorsements that I receive, that they are essentially meaningless so I assume that everyone else will see the same thing. While linked-in users may think that they can benefit from being endorsed, hiring managers will discount and ignore them. Furthermore if it is true as you say that they are not available for screening searches they don’t even figure into the key business driver of Linked-in.
        Best regards,

        • says

          Hank – if this were an Op Ed piece, I would agree with almost 100% of what you say, especially the fact that Recommendations should be seen as being much more important than any mere Endorsement will ever be … AND that most professionals I know do feel that Endorsements – with the additional “engaging” emails being sent from LinkedIn – HAVE devalued the user experience for many. I’ll stop there 😉

  12. says

    Nice job on this article Neal.

    I’m a believer in displaying endorsements and endorsing others. They increase user engagement and when we carefully choose the correct skills in the correct order they help improve search results and add social proof to our profiles.

    Displaying the correct skills in the correct order is up to the user.

    Getting them endorsed is up to the users connections.

  13. says

    Yes it is interesting isn’t it?

    It is interesting that this endorsement technology will forever evolve and be blind to most of us, yet human potential is what this personal branding and liking tool can really be about.

    It is interesting that the earning ability of Kim Kardashian’s is well over $65 million a year and some person with genuine talent or highly skilled may forever go unnoticed for the majority of their career.

    It is interesting that during the presidential polls millions and millions of trustworthy Americans walked into polling places all across the country and also endorsed local judges, councilman, and other county officials that these citizens never worked with; American citizens that endorsed the skills of thousands of local authorities that these millions of qualified voters knew little or nothing about.

    It is interesting that any wannabe lacking endorsements on Linkedin – any foreigner, new person just getting started, or some homely looking human could improve the perception viewers have of their profile by paying $50 million to Beyonce like Pepsi did – to increase social proof that the product of their skill is finally pretty worthy of endorsement..

    It is interesting that people on Linkedin still do not understand the principle of social proof or that truth is irrelevant and perception is everything – in the real world of personal branding and fueling a career.

    Ed Brophy, Open Endorsers’ Community:

    Open Endorsers are Open Networkers – only they have more skills.

  14. says

    Ed – I must say that I’ve really enjoyed our conversations regarding LinkedIn Endorsements that have happened through the comments of this blog post! In fact, I will probably be taking the contents of what you have written about and repurpose it into a blog post – giving you full credit for the ideas that you have submitted – at some point in the future. We are in an always evolving world of social media, so at one point what seemed trivial can potentially have a huge impact in the future. LinkedIn Endorsements are no different. Thanks for opening up the eyes of not only myself but for all of my readers! And let’s keep the conversation going as this grand experiment evolves!

  15. says

    Thanks Neal. You are a great communicator
    This is the latest insight I’ve developed:

    Concerning Linkedin’s influence in the marketplace with skill endorsements,The first most effective way into the mind of Linkedin users is not with words at all, it’s with a visual that has emotional appeal.

    When you think of “likes,” you picture and associate the inviting thumbs up.

    Even in most conversations, the first most important element to bridge trust and understanding is rapport and likeability. The subject matter of a conversation or relationship then, is only a secondary element.

    An alluring endorsement icon must be created first to establish rapport and likeability. As you know, appealing visuals have emotional power.

    “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something,
    than educate people and hope they were entertained.”
    ~ Walt Disney

    “Customers don’t buy products, they buy certainty. They buy trust
    and likeability, they buy perceptions and reputations.” ~Brian Tracy

Please Leave a Comment!