I joined LinkedIn a long time ago as it was all the rage and lots of colleagues were sending me connection requests. I've tried to keep my profile fairly up to date. I've even had a couple of folks reach out to me via LinkedIn. But even in those cases, the people who used LinkedIn to contact me, could have used another contact method that is readily available for me. Anyway, this post is not about the merits of LinkedIn but is related to the "Endorsements" feature of the LinkedIn service. Generally speaking, every connection I have on LinkedIn is a business contact. I have a small handful of other folks that I'm linked to that are real estate agents, child care services and what-not. They are contacts I have outside my primary job role/function. It's my connections with this latter group of folks that prompts me to wonder about the Endorsements feature.

Whenever I get an email telling me that I've received an endorsement from a LinkedIn colleague, I'm always interested to see what they're endorsing me for. I also find it very interesting when people who don't really know me, but mainly only know of me, provide endorsements. Sometimes, the endorsements fit and sometimes they don't (at least not to the point where I'd choose to list that area of expertise on a resume let's say). But, what really makes me smile is when one of my "other business" group endorses me for something that I am fairly certain they don't even know what it is! 

I received an email just a bit ago stating that a real estate agent that I know (not all that well actually) endorsed me for SQL. I had to laugh. I'm fairly confident that she wouldn't know what S Q L stood for much less know if I possess any skill related to it. But, I also know that she is trying to be helpful and she has some familiarity with what I do and thought the endorsement would fit for me. While I appreciate the sentiment, it still makes me question the overall usefulness of LinkedIn Endorsements. I could just as easily go on a campaign and ask everyone I know to join LinkedIn and give me an endorsement. And, I could send out a note to all my current LinkedIn contacts and request endorsements. In the end, I could (in theory) end up with hundreds of endorsements from people who don't really know me or my work.

So, the final question, for me, is "what's the point" (of Endorsements in particular)? I know some people use LinkedIn effectively and can perhaps speak more to the benefits of endorsements (skills list only, not personal recommendations). I'm an Oracle girl. I primarily optimize SQL and help improve Oracle database application performance. Who do I think can best assess my skills in that arena? Most likely, it's going to be the people I've actually worked for/with. But given how I've received endorsements from people that don't really know me and couldn't possibly assess (much less endorse) my skill sets, it sure makes me wonder. 

What about you? Ever wonder? What's your experience? How do you use or assess the effectiveness of such endorsements?