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Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

June 19, 2016
Question

Is it important for me to have LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements on my profile?

answer
Julie Q. Brush

When one looks at various profiles on LinkedIn, there is a wide range of detail that each user includes-or doesn’t. Some are the barest of bones, while others contain a list of thises and thats that run as long as your arm.

Over the course of several years, LinkedIn has evolved into the social media tool for professionals. And as the site provides added features, it becomes more perplexing on the best way to use it for maximum career benefit. The “recommendations” and “endorsements” are a few features that attorneys use to build professional credibility.

But how important are these recommendations and endorsements for a lawyer’s career? While there can be a modest lift derived from such on-line kudos, the impact isn’t material. Here’s the breakdown of the two:

Professional Recommendations.

LinkedIn “recommendations” are on-line written recommendations provided by one professional about another. These recs can be unsolicited, but are often requested (“Will you recommend me?”). There is a common message that serves as an undercurrent through all of these recommendations: You are awesome. It would seem logical that having these statements of your awesomeness would be big brand and marketability boosters. But the reality is that their impact is minimal. In addition, having control of your recommenders and the recs you post on your profile is a bit liked a rigged game. So, the weight of the words is diminished.

The biggest bang for the buck you’ll receive from a LinkedIn recommendation is in the “importance” of the person recommending you. If it’s a heavy hitter or someone who is important to other constituencies you want to impress, it could pique more interest in your background and modestly enhance your marketability. Modestly. The fact is, when most people skim the recommendations section; they go directly to the name and title of the person providing the testimonial. A high profile name can be impressive. But kudos from “Mary S., Co-Worker” or “Jim B., Former Colleague” won’t hold much, if any weight.

In addition, it’s a slippery slope with regard to the number of recommendations that you showcase. If you have one, you risk giving the impression that there aren’t a lot of people who would recommend you. So you are probably better off having no recommendations – unless your solo rec came from a bigwig. In contrast, an obscene number of recommendations will likely create a negative impression and the appearance that you may be overcompensating for something not as desirable in your background. It also looks a bit overeager.

Endorsements.

When you view a person’s profile page, you may see a box at the top that asks you to “endorse” the professional. It will list a fairly large number of categories and provide you with an opportunity to check as many boxes as you want. The benefit of endorsements is even less than recommendations – if there is a benefit at all. Do my received endorsements for “business” or “strategy” strengthen my marketability or career? No. I recently met a lawyer who told me that when it comes to professional endorsements, she clicks as many boxes that seem relevant. Implying that not much thought goes into the actual endorsement. And she’s not in the minority with this approach.

In the endorsement exercise, I believe there is actually more benefit for the endorser – as it’s an opportunity for a person to say something nice about you – either genuinely or as part of a brown-nosing effort. And who doesn’t feel a little warmer towards someone who is saying something nice about you? It’s a good “relationship-building” touch.

The use of LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations are fine, but generally speaking they serve little to no importance for an attorney’s overall career. And the absence of these pats on the back will not negatively impact your marketability or career either.

You’re better off spending your time and effort on a good photo.

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