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LinkedIn endorsements aren't the hardest kinds of endorsements to get. Your mother, your neighbor, even total strangers can endorse you for all sorts of skills, from complex civil litigation to organizing company softball teams.
While colleagues can provide detailed recommendations, also featured prominently on your LinkedIn profile, endorsements are a simple thumbs up -- a sign that someone stands behind your skills. But, do they matter?
Another Form of Vetting
Many potential employers, recruiters and clients often research candidates on LinkedIn and other sites. If a head hunter, hiring partner or client checks out your profile, it doesn't hurt to have a large number of endorsements for each of your listed skills. Seeing that 40 people value your ability to ensure regulatory compliance and your knowledge of international shipping law -- well, it leaves a better impression than someone who has no endorsements.
That said, who is giving the endorsement is much more important than how many people have endorsed you. If someone from a viewer's own network endorses you, that lends even more creditability to your claimed skills -- so start making connections with those LinkedIn powerhouses, the ones with hundreds in their network. Your audience, clients, employers, etc., could contact your shared connection, turning that endorsement into a direct referral.
The most valuable endorsements, however, come from leaders in the field. If a respected partner endorses you, that endorsement will outweigh any thumbs up from random friends or small clients. The same goes for endorsements by legal scholars, business leaders, and others. Well-known names matter.
The Ethics Board Thinks Endorsements Matter Too
Of course, put up a skill you don't have and an endorsement could raise some ethics concerns. That could easily be taken as a "false or misleading communication," prohibited under the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and every state bar. Similarly, some states have rules regulating how lawyers can claim specialties. In California, for example, lawyers need state certification to claim that they are "certified specialists." A linked in endorsement probably doesn't amount to a claim that you're certified in a field, but it could be getting close.
So remember, while endorsements can help you out, they aren't all created equal -- and if they're not legitimate, they could land you before a disciplinary committee.