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Endorse with Sincerity, and Other LinkedIn Best Practices
By: Christine Geraci
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Recently a colleague requested to be my friend on Facebook, but I just let him sit in my friend request queue, because I didn't recognize his name or picture. A couple of days later, he mentioned to me that he'd friend-requested me and clarified that he uses a different name. 
I must admit that had he not done that, I likely would have let him sit in my friend request queue, a victim of my inaction. Eventually, I probably would have officially ignored him, but not before wasting a few minutes of my extremely busy life feeling a little guilty about my desire to reject a friendly overture. 
As I work through getting over that, I'm thankful for social networks like LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is one place I NEVER feel pressure to connect with people, because the connections aren't purely made of personal emotion. This is an online social platform for professional networking, so it doesn't matter if there's a personal layer to the friendship or not: If you respect one another as professional colleagues, then the connection is worth something. 
But even now, I feel like personal feelings and petty social pressures are starting to muddy the LinkedIn waters a bit too much for my liking. For example: People I don't know are endorsing me for skills on which they haven't directly seen me perform.
Sure, someone I don't know could endorse me for, say, blogging, because they've read and like what I write here.
But when connections start endorsing me for skills they'd only know I have if they've worked directly with me, I start to get annoyed. That's NOT how endorsements are supposed to work. You don't endorse with an expectation of being endorsed in return. You endorse because you can say with authority that person performs the skill you're endorsing well. 
I've always navigated LinkedIn with a few basic rules of engagement. In hopes of quelling the disappointingly empty endorsements I've been getting lately, I'd like to share them with you:
Evaluate every person who wants to connect with you by asking these three questions: 
Do I know this person?
Do any of my trusted connections know this person?
Has this person requested an introduction for the purpose of learning more about what I do professionally because they currently attend one of my alma maters?
If you answer "no" to all of these questions, do not connect. If you don't know the person but one or more trusted connections do, then don't hesitate to ask those connections about the person. 
Only endorse someone for skills you feel they actually execute well. Chances are, just about everyone on LinkedIn could list "Facebook" as a "skill," but I don't consider personal use of Facebook a qualifier. If you've managed a page or utilized a personal account specifically for business-related promotion, then you're good. If I don't know for sure whether or not you've actually done that, then I'm not endorsing you for it. 
Write recommendations with sincerity. Write recommendations because you'd honestly recommend the person, not because you expect that person to write a recommendation for you. If you ask for a recommendation and you are either denied or ignored, then it's time to reevaluate that connection. Likewise, if you've been asked to write a recommendation and can't find the time, let that person know. Your act of putting it off or ignoring it leaves a lot of room for negative interpretation. If you don't have the chutzpah to say no, then fine. But if you truly don't have the time, be courteous enough to say that too.
Do you have any recommendations to add to the list?

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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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