About a week ago I noticed on Linkedin that I can endorse peoples’ skills-claims. The blue rectangle with 4 profile images from people immediately got me thinking: What Endorsements mean now, and in what ways will this feature allow Linkedin to develop?

For professionals, it is important to be known and well-connected on Linkedin. The ROI of this social network is quite high, especially if you’re in a consulting/marketing field like me. So for those who rely on Linkedin for lead generation, having a competitive profile is really a matter of business survival. Back in 2008 I started reaching out to many people to build up my connections base, and a year later I decided to optimize my Linkedin profile for search. Just a couple of weeks later, I got my first lead from Linkedin. The rest is history.

Today, Endorsements has the potential to open up an entire new chapter of Linkedin Profile Optimization in several ways:

  • deflate the value of sheer connections count
  • increase the importance of actual p2p interaction
  • increase the need of professional engagement in group discussions

Endorsements is a great way to sift out REAL connections from those made only to inflate the connections count. Sofar, having plenty of connections supposedly created a way for your message to be heard by many professionals. I wouldn’t be surprised that after a while, Linkedin will separate the connections we endorsed from those that have no endorsement in two separate groups, the People You Know, and People You Actually Know.

Linkedin tried to cap the inter-linking by encouraging people to IDK (I dont know this person) connection invites from unknown people, but now they came up with a lot simpler and more logical solution. With the IDK, we faced a situation of Linkedin “punishing” those on the social network that actually try to socialize and expand their circle of connections. This was very counter-intuitive. It actually still is. It’s like punishing the one who elegantly breaks the silence on a blind date. The Endorsements is quite opposite, as it encourages personal interaction in this professional social network. For this, I +1 and Like what Linkedin did.

But where can this new feature take us all that participate on Linkedin?

Perhaps Linkedin may launch a skills search, where people will be ranked for a certain skill based on number of endorsements and number of years we worked in that area. Facebook mentions their own search (which means they’ll abandon Bing’s services), so why wouldn’t Linkedin build theirs? They do have the world’s largest database of professionals with tons of professional data on us. From a sourcing/recruiting perspective, Linkedin Search may be a goldmine. Who knows, maybe in a few years, people that don’t have any work experience but want to get some Linkedin exposure, will have to buy Personal Linkedin Ads and pitch for jobs they aspire to. Not saying this will happen… just projecting an idea of where Linkedin can (should) go as a service provider.

Now, it seems, “optimizing your profile for Linkedin search” is not a question of listing the skills and experience. It’s about real engagement, getting yourself known on relevant groups, and not being The Grinch online.

All in all, this move will definitely spawn waves of groups activity and intensify personal interest for The Other in any group discussion. From a dollar perspective, increased interaction means increased pageviews, which directly means increased exposure to ads. Remember how Google tried to get social first with Buzz, and now with Google Plus they finally got things right? And how they promising that G+ won’t matter for SEO? And just a couple of weeks ago how we got an official announcement that a G+ link in the rel-author tag will affect search results? Well, in a similar manner, Endorsements may become the next big thing for Linkedin, provided they recognize the potential and move toward publicizing their services as a sourcing/talent hunting tool. Those who have more endorsements on say SEO, and have 7 years of work experience in positions related to SEO will outrank a newbie in SEO…who will have to buy Personalized Linkedin Ads in order to get some exposure, even if that means having their name in the Sponsored section, totally separated from the “organic” results. Sounds a lot like Google.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.