1. Do I need to thank someone for an endorsement? LinkedIn's new Endorsements feature is promoted as a way to give kudos with one click. Yet, if it is so simple to give, what does it really indicate? Is it valid to measure someone's skills if there is no context assigned? And why can any connection be qualified to make these endorsements? The feature raises many issues, but the better question is, do these endorsements justify your response? Old-fashioned etiquette would say, yes, you can and probably should thank someone in a message through LinkedIn. However, that takes time and effort; more time and effort than it took the person to endorse you. If you chose to return the favor and endorse them, that is another option and decision you can make. If you do decide to send a thank you, know that it will probably be one of very few the recipient receives. What memorable impression will that have?
2. Someone wrote a recommendation for me. Do I need to return the favor? Often people use the "give to get" principle to entice someone to write a return recommendation. Does this mean you must accept and post their endorsement as well as write one for them too? If you did not ask for their recommendation, it is up to you to decide how and if you want to make it visible on your profile. Also note that if there are typos or if the message isn't quite to your liking, you can ask for the author to modify what they've written. If you feel comfortable and confident enough to write a recommendation of their work, then you could return the favor. However, you are not obligated to do so. In either case, you should thank the individual for their recommendation.
3. I don't remember (or know) the person who has endorsed me. What should I do? Have you ever received a request to connect on LinkedIn from someone you didn't know or can't remember? If you are open to new connections, then most likely you will accept the request to connect. If you prefer to connect only with people you know, then your choice is a bit more difficult. Maybe you did meet this person and they haven't reminded you. You could chose to send a message to them and ask for a reminder of how you have met or how each other. Or you could simply ignore their request. If you do chose to ignore the request, also think about the potential opportunities you may miss out on or the additional relationships you may not forge.
4. Interactive or static? Should LinkedIn be a network where you exchange ideas or just a place to post your experience? Perhaps this isn't a question you have thought about. Now would be a good time to think about what you want to get out of using LinkedIn. What are your goals for using it? If you're employed, have you considered how you can use it to improve your job performance, keep current with industry trends, or build new partnerships? If you're unemployed, are you only using LinkedIn to search for jobs? In either case, consider how you can get more from using the site. Think about how it can add value to your career. Challenge your beliefs and think about new ways of learning, connecting, and building relationships.
There Are Few Absolutes
Every individual on LinkedIn has a different interpretation of how they want to use the tool. Base your decisions to the questions above on your goals. Always keep in mind standard business etiquette. Be polite, considerate, and respectful of differing opinions and views.
Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.