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LinkedIn recommendations. A valuable but devalued currency.

LinkedIn recommendations. A valuable but devalued currency.

High denomination, low value small change from my Mongol Rally trip.

I blog therefore I am…

…obliged to post a review of the year past.

Well fuck that for a game of soldiers.

Tweetdeck is amok with links to review and prediction posts already. They’ve even managed to displace the “7 ways to write a list-based blog post” brigade. And I think, like the January sales, they’re getting earlier every year.

(If I were to make a prediction for 2012 it would be that we’ll see the first 2012 review post some time in November.)

So no review post from me.

But, whilst I’m not going to write about it, I have been reflecting on people, relationships and ambition.

And, as a result I had cause to re-read the LinkedIn recommendations I’ve written in the last 12 months.

I don’t give LinkedIn recommendations lightly. I only wrote three in the last 12 months, which is a fraction of the recommendation requests I received.

Your opinion on other people says as much about you as it does about them.

So, given that I’d like to be taken seriously, I only write recommendations for other people that in my view deserve to be taken seriously too.

Verbal language has body language.

It’s obvious when someone is going through the motions. Particularly so when it comes to LinkedIn recommendations. And going through the motions devalues what should be a valuable testimonial.

My conditions for writing one of these are as follows :-

  • I have to know you. You’d think this would be obvious. It isn’t. A connection on LinkedIn is a one-size-fits-all measure of acquaintance. Connecting with me does not signify my endorsement of your work. Based on a few requests I’ve received some people clearly think otherwise.
  • You must not recommend me back. There’s too much you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours going on on LinkedIn. It’s transparent and it devalues the recommendation for both parties.
  • You have to deserve it. That might sound like arrogance on my part, but I hope it isn’t. Nobody likes a broken promise, and a LinkedIn recommendation is a promise to prospective employers that the person concerned is worth hiring. Your opinion about other people says as much about you as it does about them. If you deserve it I’ll go out of my way to write something that is obviously anything but going through the motions.

Here are my last three recommendations.

Chris Miller

The copywriter with his own strapline.” This is one of my favourite Twitter biographies and it belongs to Chris. It epitomises what Chris is all about. 1) He will fit great copy into all the nooks and crannies required of modern integrated communication, both offline and online. 2) He elegantly conveys personality and tone of voice in as little as six words. 3) He doesn’t just write. His advertising background has taught him to be a focused conceptual thinker. 4) He “gets” the whole social thing. 5) That should be enough.

Rachel Lane

I write this two weeks after Rachel left Blonde to embark on her big Canadian adventure. Two weeks that have confirmed beyond doubt that Rachel was “on fire” in terms of both the quantity of work she was getting through and the self-imposed quality control that she was applying to that work. This should have come as no surprise given that a steady stream of colleagues had been approaching me after meetings to say that Rachel “is on fire”, or that “the client loved her.” We would definitely take her back. Here are some good things about Rach. She cares passionately about everything she does. This applies equally to a strategy piece or to a homemade birthday card. She makes things happen. This applies equally to networking with mobile technology vendors on Blonde’s behalf, or to confronting head on any deficiencies in our culture or processes. Rachel constructively fills vacuums. She takes professional development very seriously. Her insight gathering skills were strong from the start at Blonde. But in the last year she has added intuitive leaps, compelling storytelling and conceptual thinking to her armoury. She left us very much the rounded planner. Good luck to her.

Keith Wallace

I miss Keith, as does the rest of Blonde. He was so much more than our finance director. In a company of 25 people, each person theoretically makes a 4% contribution to the culture. Keith overindexed significantly in this respect at the 99% confidence interval. (Enough of the lame maths pseudo-geekery.) He also over-delivered against his job description. Being the finance director of a creative business is not easy. You have to strike an appropriate balance between the firm, disciplined, strategic hand of prudent corporate governance on the one hand, and the gut feel to allow the occasional outwardly extravagant indulgence or gut-feel punt on the other. Keith was a natural in this respect. Whilst he might have inwardly winced on occasion I don’t think he ever blinked. And he definitely knew when to put his foot down. To the best of my knowledge Keith also discharged his non-trivial reporting and forecasting duties to our Cello Group plc lords and masters to their satisfaction. Ditto when it came to the annual audit process. Whilst at Blonde Keith had one person reporting directly into him. Said person has the utmost respect for Keith.

I’ve learned from people that have moved on from Blonde that headhunters and employers put great value on both the quantity and quality of LinkedIn recommendations held by job candidates.

Valuable currency indeed.

So surely we should all be doing what we can to help this currency hold its value. We devalue ourselves every time we devalue it.


One comment

  1. Since I’m actually mentioned in this post (and STILL glowing), I felt it only right and proper that I comment. I don’t like LinkedIn as a social network. In my harshest moments I’ve described it as a hangout for people of a certain age who don’t get Twitter or Facebook. It’s abused by sales people, lacks the colour and character of other social platforms and certain aspects of the user experience are significantly flawed (that would be another blog post).

    However (!), adding meaningful detail to my profile, securing recommendations and proactively connecting with people has absolutely generated interviews with recruiters and agencies, both in the UK and Canada. Reviewing a LinkedIn profile is also one of the basic cyberstalking tick-boxes that many employers would do for prospective candidates (at any stage of the recruitment process). The fact that most people don’t make the effort with LinkedIn, positions those with complete profiles head and shoulders above the rest. If you can articulate your achievements and experience with a little verve and va-va-voom, then you’ll also stand on the head and shoulders of those who abuse the space with routine copy and production-line recommendations.

    I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of professional networking in digital space and hope in 2012 LinkedIn may play with a little more imagination, so we see a little less cowboy behaviour.

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