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

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

The power of third-party credibility is undeniable, and social media is its biggest conduit. But not all social proof is created equal. LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations are prime examples of it.

As LinkedIn is the premier social platform for B2B lead generation, ensuring you establish this essential third-party credibility, also known as social proof, is vital to your success.

Two powerful ways you can showcase this third-party credibility on LinkedIn are:

  1. Endorsements
  2. Recommendations

In this article, I explain the difference between a LinkedIn endorsement and a LinkedIn recommendation and show how you can 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 have 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 will be perceived as credible by the visitors of your profile. All other things being equal, people will be more impressed by a person who has 99+ endorsements of their skills than a person with a small number of endorsements.

How to manage your LinkedIn endorsements

To give an endorsement:

  1. navigate to the profile of the person you wish to endorse
  2. travel 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 will 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, and Other Skills.

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

Re-order your skills, ensuring the skills you want to stand out are located at the top.

To do this, 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

You can get more LinkedIn skill endorsements in a number of ways.

One of the best ways to get 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 number of endorsements is to endorse others’ skills.

When you endorse someone, they are 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 much greater 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.

LinkedIn recommendations are even more powerful than written testimonials on your website because readers can authenticate the author of a recommendation by clicking on their LinkedIn profile.

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

Recommendations that speak to your expertise enhance your profile. They provide social proof, significantly improving your chances of getting more connections and generating more leads from LinkedIn.

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 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

When asking someone for a LinkedIn recommendation, do NOT use the default message. Instead, customize both the subject line and the message.

Let people know why you are asking for a recommendation. This could be as simple as letting them know you are updating your profile.

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

Increase your success of getting LinkedIn recommendations by making the process easy for the person you are asking. Provide a sample recommendation they can either use or modify as they choose. This is especially easy to do if they have sent you written praise via email or a message.

LinkedIn endorsements vs. recommendations: No debate needed

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

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

It is 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!


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