LinkedIn has added a new “click” feature that enables you to very easily “endorse” people for their expertise in the skill areas listed on their LinkedIn profile. A recent article from Social Media Examiner talks about this new feature and offers 6 Tips for Using the LinkedIn New Endorsements. Endorsements has been met with mixed reviews. But it does set the stage for additional dialogue on how social media connections turn into actual business relationships?
Through the new feature I have received Endorsements like many of you probably have. I’m honored to receive this acknowledgement from my industry colleagues, but it makes me wonder what these Endorsements actually represent.
Prior to Endorsements, LinkedIn offered the ability to write Recommendations for people you know. People take time to think through their thoughts and provide a true Recommendation. These are “real world” personal testimonials. I very much appreciate the Recommendation comments I receive and believe that written Recommendations have true value. To me, Endorsements just don’t carry the same kind of weight.
Here’s an example. In preparing to write this article, I thought about my good friend Rod Brown from MadeToOrder. It seemed like the appropriate time to write a positive Recommendation for him, illustrating my point. I wrote: “Rod is an asset to our industry. I've seen his savvy business skills and leadership ability in action. Through the years, Rod has taken the time to mentor me and I am privileged to call him my friend.” My Recommendation is short and to the point, but I believe has far more value than simply clicking to do an Endorsement which require little if any thought at all.
This article on using LinkedIn’s new Endorsements feature has stimulated many comments, many of a negative nature. This particular post sums up my feelings: "I am very disappointed in the LinkedIn "Endorsement" option. What happened to true Testimonials or Recommendations? I have worked very hard to achieve my Recommendations and am very proud to know what people say about my services. I am now receiving requests from people I do not know or have never done business with asking me to endorse them. Honestly, I do not do business this way and if I endorse these people, my credibility will also be devalued. I also have received messages requesting me to endorse them but then say, "If we did not do business together, disregard this message". If we didn't do business together, why are you sending me the request? Basically, I believe they are just sending out a message to all of their contacts in hopes of getting endorsed.”
There is an endless discussion and debate on the value of social media. And in my mind the check-this-box mentality doesn’t get us to the ultimate goal, which is creating valuable business relationships that generate or contribute to overall sales.
The ROI for social media is often in question. Generally, social media platforms are free, other than the time commitment. Done right, social media relationships go beyond sales. The connections create a unique, more personal bond, leading to a greater trust and loyalty to a company. People can choose whether this makes sense for their business. Endorsement may have a place in LinkedIn, but I still believe the connection value is built far beyond clicking an Endorsement or Liking a Facebook page.
For instance, recently, I have connected with Kathie Tratnik from American Ad Bag though social media. I’ve done business with her company before, but getting to know Kathie, even in what would seem to be an impersonal online forum, means that now American Ad Bag is now my go to source for bags. I should add the company, beyond Kathie, is amazing to work with and that’s also why I am a loyal customer. But my social media relationship strengthens my business relationship.
I’ve also gotten to know Scott Harris from Pro Towels. I don’t often have a need for towels, but when I do, I go to Pro Towels. I currently have a need for a few hundred tapestry blankets, which are pricey and the order is a nice piece of business. This order will go to Pro Towels because of my relationship with the people at the company. While there are many good suppliers who have this item, I wouldn’t consider going anywhere else. I connect with Scott frequently online, and at industry events we connect personally. Both venues have helped to strengthen our friendship and business relationship.
I hope that I will be able to meet Kathie Tratnik at the PPAI Expo. Connecting with my social media friends at industry events is truly one of the benefits of going to shows. Relationships that are nurtured both online and in person translate to good business and good friends.
My 16 year old son thinks my friends are old, but with age comes wisdom and the people in my world are savvy enough to not post offensive, embarrassing things on social media. I see Paul Bellantone President and CEO of PPAI spending time with his son, Bobby Lehew from Robyn Promotions sharing dishes he cooked (trout with maple syrup and cardamom/cayenne pepper glaze plus roasted mushrooms with goat cheese, dill filling…really??) The always-traveling Dana Zezzo from Jetline shares his interesting “Hotel Views”. Social media enables to learn more about our colleagues and we actually do get to “know” these people through our online world. This is part of today’s new business culture.
So let’s get connected! I’m an Account Executive with a large distributor. I choose to work with suppliers I know and trust. In my role as publisher of FreePromoTips, I have relationships with suppliers and distributors. I invite you to like our FreePromoTips Facebook Page, follow us on twitter and feel free to be my Facebook Friend. Oh…and I’m also on LinkedIn. You can Endorse me if you like, but if you know me and think I’m worthy, your Recommendation would be appreciated.