Social Networking – What is the Deal with LinkedIn Recommendations?

I’ve written about this in a more generic post, but within the past week I’ve received two requests for LinkedIn Recommendations from people I’m connected with but don’t know.

Asking for a recommendation from someone who knows you and your work is one thing, but to request recommendations from people you don’t know is unethical.

Is it just me? I don’t get it.

I’m sure Recommendations started out as a ‘good’ thing – a place where clients, peers, co-workers, and others who know you and your work could promote your capabilities and skills. This is a valuable promotional strategy when done ethically.

LinkedIn is supposed to be a professional network, a place to possibly find work and business connections. A place for . . . professionals. If you, or I, or Joe, or Mary recommend a connection we don’t know, what does that do to the system?

How can LinkedIn Recommendations be taken seriously if people willy-nilly recommend others?

Going back to the requests I received, one of them was a mass-mailing. Again, I just don’t get it. What happened to ethics and professionalism?

The other request was for a recommendation and it included a PLEA to buy ALL his books and ebooks, to help him avert becoming homeless.

What’s a bit more upsetting to me is that both requests came from writers, supposedly professional writers.

Now, my heart goes out to those in need and I would certainly help if I could. But, how on earth are we to know who is in real need and who is spamming us? And, how can you ethically recommend the writing,  marketing, or other skills of someone you don’t know?

While I had a lot of respect for LinkedIn, that respect is waning. Their Recommendation system needs a revamping with some controls put in place. As it stands now, if you’re looking for a professional in a particular arena you won’t know for sure if that individual or business has ‘real’ or ‘unethical’ recommendations. This devalues LinkedIn as a quality place to find and connect with qualified professionals.

The major problem I have with the LinkedIn Recommendation system, say compared to Facebook Likes or Twitter Follows, is that it’s targeting the quality and value of a member’s work. Facebook and Twitter are more of a popularity contest – no one is attesting to the quality of a member’s work or talent.

I hope LinkedIn is taking note of how their Recommendations system is being used. And, if they are, I hope they do something about it.

Okay, enough ranting.


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Allyn Stotz said...

I agree with you Karen. I've gotten some effective tools and info from LinkedIn but what really bothers me is when someone endorses skills on me that they have no clue whether I have or not! Is this something that LinkedIn does randomly or are people really endorsing skills for people without having any idea their real skills? So misguiding!

Karen Cioffi said...

Allyn, It really is that some people are endorsing others without having a clue whether the individual is capable or skilled in that area.

It's the craziest think and I wish LinkedIn would put some controls in place or change its format.

While as authors there may be people you don't know who have read your books and can honestly recommend you as a skilled fiction writer or nonfiction writer, when it comes to editing skills or other specific skills that they would have to have worked with you to know how can they recommend you. Or, how can someone ask you to recommend them when you don't know them or anything about their skills. It's just crazy!

Oops, I'm ranting again.

Magdalena Ball said...

Quite frankly, I hate it I've gotten tons of recommendations (unasked for!) from people who have no idea about my work or even who I am. Others come from people who are in a position to recommend me, but I haven't asked for these recommendations and feel bad about receiving them when I'm not giving one back. Obviously Linked-In is asking people to do these but unprompted, so it undermines the whole notion of recommendations. I'd like to opt-out but don't know how.

Karen Cioffi said...

Maggie, the same is happening to me - people I've never heard of are recommending me. I just had one person who asked for a recommendation and I replied that I was sorry, but I don't recommend people I don't know anything about. He turned around and recommended me for something (don't remember what it was at the moment). Not sure why he'd do that.

It's a shame, because LinkedIn recommendations could have been a useful tool.

Heidiwriter said...

I've wondered about this too. I have people endorsing me for things that are not really my forte. Don't know where they come up with all those options! Because of that, I don't pay much attention to the whole issue.

Karen Cioffi said...

Heidi, thanks for stopping by! It really is such a waste. You really can't pay attention to it - the recommendations aren't valid at all.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

I agree Karen. I will only make recommendations that I can stand behind. I feel like people randomly will make recommendations hoping you'll do the same in return, and I won't. I've considered disconnecting from people who have made unwanted recommendations but just haven't taken the time.

Karen Cioffi said...

Mary Jo, it is a consideration to disconnect from those who unethically recommend others, but I get so many that I wouldn't know where to begin. I just hold fast to my own principles.

Dr John Yeoman said...

True, Karen, LinkedIn has no credibility with me either. I tried to unsubscribe from it last December when it was hacked and several million passwords were compromised. But it wouldn't let me go. I still get several emails a day from folk wanting to link with me. Needless to say, I haven't heard of most of them.

At Google+, you expect that. Adding strangers to your circle is encouraged by the system. (Although Facebook kicks you out if you do it too often.) But LinkedIn started as a networking site for business professionals. It has gone badly astray.

Karen Cioffi said...

John, it's such a shame and what I see happening now is connections are emailing with personal requests or promotion.

I don't understand why LinkedIn isn't taking some kind of regulatory action.

Thanks for stopping by!