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There's nothing so powerful as truth.

Are you on LinkedIn? If you're a professional, it's kind of expected. In fact, many would think there's something wrong with you if you aren't.

LinkedIn has done a pretty good job of automating many networking processes, and its database has become so extensive, you can find just about everyone on it. It's a very handy tool for chasing down old acquaintances, meeting new ones and, of course, learning more about all of them.

Many recruiters use it to find suitable candidates for the jobs they're trying to fill. As a result, this brings trying to make yourself look good to a whole new level, even when you're not looking for a job.

They're always trying to improve LinkedIn, and they've developed a number of neat features over the years. However, these aren't always used as intended.

Endorsements are relatively new. We all love to get endorsed by our friends, colleagues, bosses, subordinates, customers, suppliers, and just about anyone who has something good to say about us.

When someone endorses us, we get a little email message telling us about it. I'm never sure what to do at that point. I'm grateful, and I usually call or send a note to thank my endorser.

Even so, the notifying email usually makes me feel like I should go to their profile and endorse them for something too. Am I being stingy or ungrateful if I don't? If I do, just how valuable is a quid pro quo endorsement?

Additionally, some people have endorsed me for things I was surprised they knew about me. Were they just trying to be nice or were these endorsements real?

Quid pro qua

In the old, non-digital world, people thought carefully before endorsing someone, because they knew they were putting their own reputations on the line.

The most well-known endorsements are in the political arena. During election season, politicians and others can agonize over who to endorse. They want to pick the winner and participate in the largesse of the victory. And, of course, nobody wants to go down with a loser. I would like to think that at least in some cases, these endorsements are the result of someone actually trying to pick the best person for the job and use their influence to try to get them there.

In any case, endorsements have consequences in the real world, but I have to wonder how many of their cyber counterparts are as well thought out.

If I were hiring and considering a candidate with endorsements, I'd check the profiles of the endorsers to see if they had returned the favor. If I found corresponding quid pro quo endorsements, I'd discount them.

I'd also do the same with the recommendations feature. Those are far more meaningful and can be well-thought-out, but again, if they're quid pro quo, you never know.

People I hardly know have asked me to endorse them. If I don't even know what they do, how could I endorse them?

I consider myself fortunate to be barely capable of remembering the truth. I just don't have the capacity to remember different versions and who I gave them to. If I fed you a line, I'm not likely to remember it the next time we meet, so I'm not a good liar. This forces me to be scrupulously honest, as it's the only way I can survive.

This also puts bogus recommendations out of my league, but what bothers me is they're so popular.

LinkedIn is a very powerful tool, and like other powerful tools it can be used in different ways. It's easy for us to link up with others, keep in touch, recommend them, etc. It's also easy for reviewers to compare us with others. Compare several profiles. If you don't find what they want, do a search, expand or tighten the criteria, etc.

It's also much easier for our lies to catch up with us at the speed of light. You see, telling the truth in cyberspace is even more important than it ever was when it could take weeks, months or even decades for mistruths to catch up with us.

Ronald J. Bourque, a consultant and speaker from Salem, has had engagements throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He can be reached at 603-898-1871 or
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Title Annotation:Improving Performance
Author:Bourque, Ron
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 3, 2013
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