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Will LinkedIn endorsements effect search results?

20121111-222252.jpg I never thought of LinkedIn weighting endorsements in search results, but Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media (@DaveKerpen), writes in Inc. that LinkedIn endorsements change everything.

For years, LinkedIn has offered recommendations as a way to get support from fellow professionals and businesses. If you received recommendations from other individuals, you garnered credibility, and were more likely to show up in searches.

But now, LinkedIn’s endorsements are much easier to get. It takes someone seconds to vouch for one or more of your particular skills, versus the 10 minutes to 15 minutes a recommendation might take. In today’s time-starved world, this is a critical difference. LinkedIn hasn’t released numbers yet, but if you look at several profiles, it’s clear that in just a few weeks, many users have generated way more endorsements than five years worth of recommendations.

What does this mean for you as a lawyer?

LinkedIn isn’t weighting endorsements in search results yet, but it will soon. This means, the more endorsements for your skills and talents that you get, the more often you’ll appear in search results, the more trusted you’ll be, and the more leads you’ll potentially generate from LinkedIn.

78% of executives go online when selecting counsel. LinkedIn is hands down the social network for professionals. Where you rank in search results on LinkedIn for legal services in the areas you specialize in is going to effect prospective clients and clients finding you on LinkedIn.

I’ll confess that to date I’ve been underwhelmed by the recent change in the way I am being endorsed. Why? It’s too easy for my connections to endorse me.

It’s as Kerpen says, with the previous LinkedIn recommendation system it took a few minutes for someone to key up their recommendation. They needed to pause and give it some thought.

Now the LinkedIn endorsement feature jumps out at you at the top of the page when you log in and suggests endorsing 3 or 4 people. And it’s now done with the click of a mouse, without much thought. Maybe that’s why I’ve picked up what seems like over 100 endorsements in the last few weeks.

But if LinkedIn endorsements are going to weight search results, it may be worth it for lawyers to play along. Be careful through, in some states there are limits to testimonials (endorsements could be construed as such).

Second, make sure the endorser has a basis to endorse you. I’ve had lawyers request that I endorse or recommend them on LinkedIn when I had no personal knowledge of their legal skills. Do that as a lawyer and you’re misleading people, another ethical problem. If you believe an endorsement is invalid, you can hide it from your profile.

If you are looking to get LinkedIn endorsements, Kerpen suggests a couple ways;

  1. Ask. Send out a dedicated email asking appropriate people who know your capabilities for endorsements with a link directly to your profile. You may also send private messages via LinkedIn to your connections.
  2. When appropriate and deserving, give others your endorsement. When you endorse others, they get notifications from LinkedIn, and may reciprocate without your asking.

As lawyers we have the obligation not to turn LinkedIn’s endorsement system into a farce. Stacking up quid pro quo endorsements to put on a show may be appropriate for other businesses, but not for our legal profession.

At the same time people have come to trust credible online endorsements. LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations are going to be considered by business people when selecting a lawyer – especially if endorsements push your profile to the top of search results.