Been on LinkedIn today?  Notice anything different?

In the latest of what seems to be an endless string of tweaks being made to the LinkedIn site, the latest functionality involves the ability to “endorse” the skills, qualifications, and expertise of the people with whom you’re connected.  To literally vote with your fingers and say: “Yes, I am willing to personally attest that Mergatroyd has strong technical writing skills!”

You can read about this new change on Linked’s corporate blog here if you’d like — which includes a short PowerPoint show describing the new functionality, as well.

Now granted, I’m a fairly change-resistant individual.  I admit it.  But even knowing this about myself, and factoring it into my analysis, I’m still struggling to understand why LinkedIn felt compelled to make this sudden adjustment to the site.  It not only adds a big, ugly, and awkward section to the profile as a whole — with these imposing blue button-like graphics they’ve now added —  but I guess I also don’t get the business reasons behind adding this new functionality.  What’s the harm in continuing to take people at face value in terms of letting people outline their strengths and tell the world what they’re good at?  Why is there the sudden need to add this “stamp of legitimacy” to each and every individual skill, given that we’ve already got a “Recommendations” feature in place that allows people to vouch for the people around them?

At any rate, perhaps the mysterious value proposition of this new feature will emerge, in time.  And if you see some useful or helpful angle I’m missing with regard to this new feature, please let me know.  For now, however, I think we’re all going to have to brace ourselves to get “bugged” constantly about endorsing the qualifications of our acquaintances.  And for those who DON’T take the time to do this, or solicit such endorsements, the day might come when a person’s profile, without such endorsements, will no long seem to hold much legitimacy.

That’s the part I really don’t like.  Until now, I’ve been assuring many potential users that LinkedIn doesn’t take much care, feeding, or babysitting once you get the hang of it and get your basic profile in place.  Now, there seems to be the expectation that we will all play a much more active role promoting the credentials of our professional contacts on the site.  Just being connected to an individual on the site, and submitting a nice Recommendation statement on their behalf, may not be perceived as being a strong enough “endorsement” of their capabilities.

C’est la vie, though.  The change has been made and I suspect it’s here to stay.  So I’m going to be monitoring it closely, making some occasional endorsements, myself, when the mood strikes, and we’ll see if this major adjustment changes my tune about how people should optimally configure their profiles on the system.  As always, I’ll keep you posted on my recommendations!