How to Win at the Social Proof Game: LinkedIn Endorsements vs. Recommendations

How to Win at the Social Proof Game: LinkedIn Endorsements vs. Recommendations


Given that LinkedIn is the premier social platform for B2B lead generation, ensuring that you establish third-party credibility – also known as ‘social-proof’ – can be vital to your ultimate success.

Two powerful ways you can showcase this third-party credibility on LinkedIn are through endorsements and recommendations, though each comes with its own considerations and benefits.

In this post, I’ll explain the difference between a LinkedIn endorsement and a LinkedIn recommendation, and provide some notes and examples to help you get more of them.

How Do LinkedIn Skill Endorsements & Recommendations Differ?

LinkedIn endorsements: Is one click enough?

LinkedIn endorsements are a one-click process, allowing LinkedIn members to publicly endorse one or more of your specific skills.

Because endorsements are a quick and easy one-click process, people tend to give them without much thought. In some cases, LinkedIn members give them without actually knowing anything about the person or their skills.

This practice is common knowledge, so anyone viewing your profile may have some skepticism about your skills, especially if you’ve provided no other forms of social proof to support them. 

That being said, if you back up your experience with different forms of social proof, your endorsed skills will look credible.

Also, if your skills are endorsed by many people, ­they’ll likely be perceived as more credible by the visitors. All other things being equal, people will be more impressed by a person who has 99 endorsements of their skills than a person with few endorsements.

How to manage your LinkedIn endorsements

To give an endorsement:

  1. Go to the profile of the person you wish to endorse
  2. Scroll down their profile to the ‘Skills and Endorsements’ section
  3. Find the skill(s) you wish to endorse
  4. Click the “ ” icon located beside that skill.

LinkedIn skills and endorsements section

Clicking the “Show more” link will fully expand the skills section. In this section, you’ll be able to see the three main skills at the top.

The rest of your skills are grouped together under subcategories, such as “Industry Knowledge”, “Tools & Technologies”, “Interpersonal Skills”, etc.

LinkedIn puts your three skills with the highest number of endorsements at the top of the list by default, but you can rearrange them to your choosing.

To do this, you tap/click on the four-bar icon located to the right of that skill, and drag it to the top.

Edit your LinkedIn skills

Get more LinkedIn skill endorsements

One of the best ways to get more endorsements is to ask for them. You can start by reaching out to people who know you and your work well, such as:

  • Family and friends
  • Clients and past clients
  • Teachers or professors
  • Current or previous colleagues
  • Current or previous employers

Another excellent way to increase your LinkedIn endorsements is to endorse others’ skills.

When you endorse someone, they’re notified of that. This often creates reciprocity, prompting others to give you an endorsement in return – if they know your work well enough.

LinkedIn recommendations: A true measure of credibility

Recommendations provide more significant social proof on your LinkedIn profile than skill endorsements. Recommendations are more valuable because someone has taken the time to write about you, versus giving you a one-click endorsement.

In fact, LinkedIn recommendations are often more powerful than written testimonials on your website, because readers can authenticate the author of a LinkedIn recommendation by clicking on their profile then and there.

The more LinkedIn recommendations you have, and the more detailed each one is, the quicker you can establish trust with your connections.

How to Win at the Social Proof Game: LinkedIn Endorsements vs. Recommendations

How to get more LinkedIn recommendations

Remember that getting quality LinkedIn recommendations is essential. To ensure that you get quality recommendations, ask for them only from credible people, who can genuinely vouch for who you are and what you do.

Examples of people whom you may want to ask for recommendations include previous or current employers, clients, colleagues, coworkers, industry peers and instructors.

The key to getting a LinkedIn recommendation is to strike while the iron is hot – often, you’ll receive immediate feedback on your work via email or a message on LinkedIn. You can turn that feedback into a LinkedIn recommendation very quickly.

Start by thanking the person giving you the positive feedback or praise, and then ask them if they would be willing to put that feedback in a LinkedIn recommendation.

You can give or request a recommendation by going to the person’s profile, clicking the “More…” button located in the top right corner of their introduction card, and selecting either “Request a recommendation or “Recommend.

Request or give a LinkedIn recommendation

And an important note: when asking someone for a LinkedIn recommendation, don’t use the default message. You should always customize both the subject line and the message for such.

First, let people know why you’re asking for a recommendation. This could be as simple as letting them know that you’re in the process of updating your profile.

Even if the person was very satisfied with your work, they might hesitate to write a recommendation if they’re not sure what to say, or are very busy.

Increase your success in getting LinkedIn recommendations by making the process as easy as possible for the person you’re asking. You might even consider providing a sample recommendation that they can either use, or modify as they see fit. This is especially easy to do if they’ve sent you written praise via email or a message.

LinkedIn endorsements vs. recommendations: No debate needed

While it’s clear that recommendations provide better social proof of your expertise than endorsements on LinkedIn, it’s important to have both on your profile.

The key to getting both is asking for them, and providing them to others when appropriate.

It’s always worth your time to ask for a LinkedIn recommendation when you successfully complete a job or receive praise – but please remember this: do not ever ask someone who cannot truly vouch for your work to provide a recommendation or even endorse a skill. That’s the fastest way to damage your credibility.

A version of this post was first published on the Top Dog Social Media blog.




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