October 9, 2012


Signs of skill and expertiseTestimonials are essential but they have  limited value. You need them as a sign of credibility but they read like fiction and look too general.

I’ve never had a client hire me because of a testimonial. I have received clients because of my skills and expertise. How do you show what you know. Your digital tapestry helps. Outside endorsements do too.

LinkedIn has introduced an elegant solution: endorsement of skills and expertise. (Let’s say “skills”, for short.)

The New Way

In the past, you could list any skills on your LinkedIn profile, even if you didn't have them. Likewise, resumes are also peppered with impressive words without signs of proof.

Now there's accountability. If you agree that a connection has a specific skill, you "vote" by endorsing them (like a Google "+1"). Their profile shows the number of votes and who voted. That's transparency.

A Simple Plan

Make sure that your LinkedIn profile shows the Skills and Expertise section. Make sure that you've got appropriate skills listed. If you’re not sure what to show, look at some of your connections for inspiration.

When a connection posts an update, take a look at their profile. See if you can vote for any of their skills. If a skill is missing, you may be able to add it. If not, ask your connection to add the skill so that you can endorse it. They won't mind.

Some connections are nearly invisible because they are inactive on LinkedIn. Review all your connections alphabetically (I'm at G). If you can't endorse each one for at least one skill, ask yourself why you’re connected. (Possible answer: you think they have skills but don't yet know from your own personal experience.)


Protect your reputation. Do not endorse a skill unless you have evidence of it.

There are limits. Some people have too many votes in too many categories. These same people tend to have too many testimonials (and cross-testimonials). Who are they fooling?

Some connections claim to have skills they lack. Maybe they don't know they’re lousy at Public Speaking (say). That's a problem. Perhaps they're exaggerating. That's a problem too.

I'm planning to disconnect from questionable connections.


If you're reluctant to endorse your connections’ skills, what's the problem? Maybe you're unwilling to show generosity. Why? When you do something nice, bad things rarely happen (outside of the movies). Writing a testimonial may be daunting but voting for a skill is not. Try it.


When you vote, you increase your visibility by showing up on another profile. That’s advertising of sorts and might bring you more visitors.

See who else has endorsed the skill of a connection. Maybe you want to invite them to join your network. Generous people make great connections.

Getting Votes

How do you get votes? By giving. The universal principle of reciprocity will bring you votes.

You may be surprised by the results. In the beginning, I had more votes for Blogging (a hobby) than Life Insurance (my vocation). Bad optics. I "cheated" by asking two connections who knew of my insurance skills for their endorsements. Luckily, they agreed. All other endorsements came without asking.


PS You may be surprised by who will (and won't) vouch for you.

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