Did you know that you can now both hide and opt-out of LinkedIn endorsements?
Wait. Read this article in its entirety before you take any action.
In case you are unfamiliar with LinkedIn endorsements, your connections can publicly “endorse” you for your skills and these are displayed on your LinkedIn profile.
You have the ability to select and manage your listed skills.
This is how LinkedIn endorsements are displayed on your profile:
The Benefits of LinkedIn Endorsements
Although many dismiss LinkedIn endorsements as worthless or ridiculous, I disagree. LinkedIn endorsements as they are displayed on your profile not only communicate your general skills, but they also display social proof about you.
With these endorsements, the social proof really lies in the total number of them that you receive, as well as the individual totals for each skill. To fill up the display box on your profile, you need 10 skills that have a minimum of 12 endorsements each.
Endorsements take time to earn, and are a function of the growth of your network.
Lots of endorsements on your profile may suggest that you are well connected and potentially an influencer in your industry, for example. Your top endorsements also indicate that clearly, you know something about the skill you are being endorsed for.
Make sure you define your skills rather than your connections defining them for you. This will still happen from time to time anyway, but at least you can maintain some control by deleting the skills that don’t fit. (Keep reading I’ll show you how to do this)
Social proof is really important for you to leverage as a financial advisor. You are generally unable to display specific, public testimonials and recommendations related to your services on the social media profiles that you have control over.
Rule of Reciprocity
Another huge benefit of LinkedIn endorsements is the ability to give them. When you endorse your connections, they will know about it. You are also helping them to build social proof! This is a form of reciprocity. Giving leads to receiving.
LinkedIn People Searches
Finally, your skills do play a role in your search appearances within the network. I believe that they are a part of the search algorithm and help LinkedIn better understand what you do. I suspect that the volume of endorsements you collect also impacts your ability to be discovered in relevant searches.
In general, internal LinkedIn search results are highly relevant because of the vast amounts of data being collected from our profiles, activities, and our network. In 2012 alone there were 6 billion people searches conducted inside of LinkedIn!
What Do the Regulators Say About LinkedIn Endorsements?
Recently the SEC issued new guidance on social media and the testimonial rule 206(4)-1. Although I’m continuing to comb through this new guidance, which is ambiguous in many respects, there is no specific mention of LinkedIn endorsements. Therefore, the rules are left up to our interpretation.
The choice of the word “endorsement” is unfortunate. It’s a strong word for what mainly is just an indication of a skill (or service) that you posses or are known for versus an individual’s actual experience in working with you or achieving positive outcomes.
Given that the term “endorsement” doesn’t actually indicate within the context of the LinkedIn profile a specific testimonial or recommendation, I believe they are very similar to a collection of Facebook fan page “likes”.
There are no clients or prospects being singled out through these LinkedIn endorsements. This is mentioned in the SEC update as something that would be a violation of the testimonial rule.
These are aggregate endorsements of your skills from any and all of your LinkedIn connections.
With this in mind, I would advise that your list of skills remain very general in nature as they relate to your services such as “financial planning”, “retirement planning”. None of your skills listed should indicate or point toward performance results!
Should You Disable or Hide LinkedIn Endorsements from Your Profile?
It is my opinion that the social proof gained from showcasing LinkedIn endorsements from your connections on your profile is important, especially since you generally can’t publish recommendations or testimonials. Also, specific clients and prospects are not identified here.
It also should be noted that in the SEC policy update, they no longer view non-investment related commentary to be deemed as a testimonial. Therefore it sounds like you can potentially showcase recommendations that relate to community service or religious affiliation (these were the two examples given by the SEC in the update).
If your firm or legal counsel advise against showcasing your LinkedIn endorsements, you should HIDE them, but I would not recommend deleting them altogether. You may not always be affiliated with the firm you are working with today. Your endorsements may be able to come in handy down the road.
Your endorsements are an asset of your LinkedIn profile, which now is by default, your professional identity online. Because your LinkedIn profile is such a critical part of your professional identity online, it’s helpful from a credibility standpoint to fully complete that profile to the best of your ability.
If you simply don’t know or don’t feel comfortable showing endorsements on your LinkedIn profile, again HIDE them versus deleting them until you are ready to show them. Or, choose skills that are related to your community service instead of those that are related to financial planning or investing.
If you do choose to delete and disable endorsements altogether, go into “Edit Skills & Endorsements” to select that option:
What are your thoughts about LinkedIn endorsements? Do you believe they are important to have? Will you hide or delete them?