Dear Sam: I had some questions for you on LinkedIn. I am not sure how skill endorsements work. I see that some of my contacts have said I possess certain skills, but what does that do for my profile? Also, I do not accept a LinkedIn invitation unless I actually know the person, but I have also never gone through and rejected them, so what is the most appropriate way to handle this? – C.
Dear C.: Great questions. For the endorsements, you would just need to “accept” the skill endorsements and then those skills will display in the “Skills” area of your profile with a number beside the skill reflecting the amount of times a connection has “endorsed” that you have that skill. This is great as long as your network is endorsing the skills you want to promote most heavily.
Regarding accepting versus rejecting connection requests. In my opinion, LinkedIn is all about facilitating connections to people you don’t know. If it were just about connecting to those already in your contacts then there would be little reason to virtualize your connections. The beauty of LinkedIn is that you can reach out to 2nd and 3rd tier connections based on the breadth of your contacts. So, again, in my opinion, accepting your open invitations would provide you the opportunity to access people you don’t necessarily know and the connections they have. So, say you were looking to relocate out-of-state and work for a certain firm, you could search LinkedIn by that employer’s name and see if you have someone in your network with that employer in his/her profile. This is crucial when trying to branch out of your existing geographic location or industry as you can access people not in your physical network. If you just reach out to people you know, you will likely restrict access to the intelligence LinkedIn can provide. LinkedIn isn’t like accepting “friends” on Facebook, instead a connection request simply implies an understanding that you are connecting with someone—you may or may not know—so potentially you can both benefit from each other’s network. Check out the free LinkedIn webinars available on LinkedIn’s help center for more guidance.