AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Dec/12

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Susan Kistler on AEA on LinkedIn and LinkedIn’s New Endorsement Feature

My name is Susan Kistler. I am the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director and aea365’s regular Saturday Contributor. Today, we’re talking all things LinkedIn!

Rad Resource – AEA’s LinkedIn Group: AEA’s LinkedIn Community has over 9000 subscribers from around the world and is open to anyone with an interest in evaluation. It’s free (always worth noting) and takes 30 seconds to join if you are already on LinkedIn and a few minutes if you need to make an account. Current popular discussions include ones focusing Theory of Change, Logic Modeling, and Webinars for Capacity Development.

Lessons Learned – why bother? You can post questions to AEA’s LinkedIn group and take advantage of the collective knowledge of those 9000 subscribers. LinkedIn also provides a way to build your professional network, connecting with colleagues with common interests. The group’s ‘jobs’ tab is a place to look for open positions (although I would still recommend searching AEA’s job listings first as they are more extensive).

Rad Resource – LinkedIn’s Endorsement Feature: On October 1, I received an email:

“Patricia Rogers has endorsed you!”

“Why thank you Patricia!” thought I – and then I didn’t think a whole lot more about it.

We were deep into conference preparations and I didn’t click through on the “See endorsements” button that came with that initial missive. By the time I returned from the conference, there were a number of emails waiting, telling me that someone had endorsed my skills. Now I was intrigued, and appreciative, and humbled. And I clicked through.

Here is what I found – at least today’s version of it:

Hot Tip – Adding Endorsements: When signed in and you view the profiles of most people in your LinkedIn network, you can both see and add to their endorsements (unless they have turned this section off), and you can see the endorsements of people outside your network (but not add to them).

Lessons Learned From Endorsements: The endorsements features is a bit like a light, appreciative, 360 evaluation. I learned about how others view me (I wouldn’t have even put Volunteer Management on my personal skills list, but it is indeed a rewarding part of my work). For those I know well, it enables me to provide public kudos and support their work and career – as well as to learn about aspects of their work that were unknown to me.  For those I know less well, it offers insight into their perceived capacity as well as the scope of their personal networks, at least on this platform. In the future, as you seek contracts and positions, potential funders and employers may be looking at your LinkedIn endorsements.

Hot Tips for Leveraging Endorsements from Entrepreneur Magazine’s Daily Dose Blog:

  • Endorse others first and endorse fairly
  • Keep it easy for your inner circle
  • No mass emails

The above reflect my own opinions and not necessarily that of AEA. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

4 comments

  • Admin comment by Susan Kistler · December 4, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Good Points Stephen. I wonder if you hid all of the endorsements for a particular attribute, if that attribute would no longer be suggested for endorsement. Basically, if your theory is right, if someone’s attribute with the most endorsements had 10 endorsements and you hid all 10, then would it stop being suggested as an attribute on which to endorse that person.

    I do have to say that the feature has made me self-reflective about my work. A few things that I do well and value are not reflected at all and a couple of the items that are reflected a perhaps not my strong points. Yet, looking at these perceptions does make me look at my own capacity in a new way.

    A recent article from Forbes’ blog http://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/11/19/linkedin-endorsements-the-stove-top-stuffing-version-of-recommendations/ reminded me not to worry so much about them. Basically it notes that you own your profile – if you are endorsed for a skill that you don’t believe is authentic or appropriate, you can remove that entire endorsement. This made me think further and take a bit more ownership. I removed a skill I don’t feel that I have.

    The whole process is definitely a work in progress.

    Reply

  • Stephen Scanlon · December 3, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Jane is too kind. I am being endorsed for grant writing by people who couldn’t possibly know that side of me. And it is a small side but that seems to be what I am best noted for in the endorsement biz.

    Except that I want to figure out the calculus of the endorsement gimmick, I would turn it off. I don’t like being mischaracterised, especially when the things I most value are unendorsed. My guess is that those most often cited rise to the top of the suggestion list where a quick and maybe sloppy click is all it takes.

    This resource may well be a mockery of the thoughtful quality Linked In projected. Given my record of endorsements, I would pay no attention to what the crowd has to say about you Susan though I am happy to peak at the results.

    So Susan, I won’t be endorsing you. I think more of you than that. I don’t give meaningless praise and so far as I can tell, that is what the feature amounts to. Of course I would be tickled for folks to endorse me for what I most value in myself and I will go so far as to indicate that it is not grant writing. I guess Linked In jumped the Shark with this.

    Reply

  • Admin comment by Susan Kistler · December 3, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Really good point – I think that is what Entrepreneur magazine was trying to get at when they encouraged people to endorse fairly.

    Bringing an evaluative lens to the process ensures we’re basing our findings in evidence.

    It is intriguing to think of this as a type of crowdsourced evaluation – or at least a piece of crowdsourced evidence.

    I note also that you can also go in and remove individual endorsements if you want and rescind endorsements – perhaps if your evidentiary base changes!

    Reply

  • Jane Davidson · December 3, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Thanks, Susan, for posting this!

    Just have to add one more thing, especially for the evaluators:
    * endorse people for skills you have actually witnessed

    I have had more than a few chuckles when people (evaluators, no less!) either (a) endorse me for things they could not have possibly witnessed my doing and even (b) endorse me for things I’m not actually good at!

    I often look at possible endorsements for people and think well, you probably are good at that but I’ve never actually seen you do it, so it doesn’t seem right to imply to someone else reading your profile that I can attest to that skill.

    So, my vote is for: Let’s keep it well-reasoned and well-evidenced (even if it was purely based on eyewitness testimony), folks! 🙂

    Jane

    Reply

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