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LinkedIn Endorsements and How to Turn That Shit Off

how to remove_linkedin_endorsementsSome of the folks reading this blog have endorsed me on LinkedIn. This is automatically going to turn me into an ass monkey in someone’s eyes. Fine. I’m an ass monkey.

But I’m an ass monkey that wants you to stop using LinkedIn Endorsements. For. Fuck’s. Sake.

**Note: the language doesn’t get any cleaner from here on out. You’ve been warned.**

First, I’m going to talk about why LinkedIn Endorsements are about as meaningful as having Paris Hilton teach etiquette classes to pre-teen girls. Once I’m done spouting off, I’m going to teach you how to turn them off. You already know how I feel about unqualified connection requests (and apparently, most of you feel the same way).

The Idiocy of LinkedIn Endorsements

Here’s the bottom line about LinkedIn Endorsements: who cares? I know they’re bullshit. You should know they’re bullshit. If you don’t know that they’re bullshit, let’s define why they’re bullshit once and for all.

There are many reasons to connect with people on LinkedIn. Not all of those connections will be people who have direct knowledge or experience as to what’s it’s like to work with you.

The only “barrier to entry” for offering a LinkedIn endorsement is being someone’s connection on the LinkedIn platform. Now, I’m sure that the passengers on the Titanic would not be endorsing Edward Smith for his sea captaining skills. Did they directly work with Smith? No, but I do feel they’re likely a good judge of his experience. But he’s dead. Just like 1,502 passengers on the ship. But that still leaves roughly 700 people who could likely vouch for the fact that Smith missed a giant chunk of ice in the Atlantic martini.

Which brings me to another round of WHO FUCKING CARES?! When the barrier to entry on a LinkedIn Endorsement is only that someone’s clicked a button to acknowledge that they accept a connection, who the hell is giving any credence to Endorsements?

Here’s a snapshot of my Endorsements on LinkedIn:

how to turn off linkedin endorsements

Now, the only endorsement I really give a rat’s ass about is the one highlighted in red. Guess what? I created that category myself, fully embracing the sheer idiocy of LinkedIn endorsements and figured to hell with it. If people are going to offer me an endorsement on a skill and they’ve never met me, by gawdalmighty, here’s one they can click with fucking certainty.

Blogging? Thank you. After nearly 700 posts since 2006, I hope I know what I’m doing. But then again, shouldn’t other people be the judge of that when they stop by my blog?

Online Advertising? I really know fuckall about this. Facebook ads, their promoted posts, and a deep interest in LinkedIn advertising are the extent of it, I’m afraid.

Published Author? Yes, I am. Twice. But then again, so is this guy. Now you can see how useful broad categories like this are. Kill me now.

It all comes down to an ego-centric circle jerk. Every time I see a fresh Endorsement notification, I feel like the girl who got invited to a random “no, no, I swear it’s NOT an orgy” party and I get stuck hiding in the corner behind a ficus for the entire evening because my ride is involved in a kind of sandwich they don’t sell at Subway.

I’m leaving the Endorsements party. It’s creepy and I didn’t ask to be here. Maybe you’re ready to leave, too.

Let’s carpool.

Now — how do we get these fuckers off our LinkedIn profiles?

How to Remove Endorsements from Your LinkedIn Profile (or disable them completely)

Removing Endorsements from your LinkedIn profile is so damn easy that I feel like a chump for not figuring it out on my own. A big hat tip goes out to my friend Rich Mackey for giving me the gist so I could share this illustrated guide with you.

Step 1: Click on Edit Profile

how to removed linkedin endorsements

 

Step #2: Scroll down to Skills & Expertise (cough) and click the EDIT pencil icon

Screen shot 2013-04-01 at 9.12.14 PM

Step #3: Opt to hide Endorsements in 3 simple steps.

removed linkedin endorsements from profile

You’re done. All that will show are skills that YOU choose to have displayed on your profile for search purposes or whatnot.

People can no longer offer their nonsensical “vouchings”. And you, my friends, are now free of those useless notifications that someone’s endorsed you.

Want real endorsements? Ask your customers and clients for testimonials. Put them on your website. Make them easy to find and make sure they depict the work you do and how your clients feel when you do it for them. LinkedIn isn’t the only game in town when it comes to building a credible portfolio for your brand of awesome. Stop letting others — the platforms and the people — define how others see you.

That’s your domain, friend. Take it back and make the rules.

The Bitch Slap: Stop Being a Jackass With Your LinkedIn Requests

how to use LinkedIn etiquetteYou need to learn how to use LinkedIn if you’re going to use it.

Every week, my “Invitations” inbox is jam packed with invitations to connect. Lovely. People like me. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

But would you kindly explain to me who the fuck you are and why you’re jamming up not just one, but TWO of my inboxes with your requests? By the time I get that little notification in my real inbox that you’d “like to add me to your professional network on LinkedIn,” I now have two messages to delete instead of one.

And frankly, you’re wearing me out.

So today, you’re getting a Bitch Slap about how to use LinkedIn and do something as simple as asking someone to join your network. And for all that is holy, it’s time for you to stop being a jackass and wasting everyone else’s time — and your own.

Stop Being Lazy

First, LinkedIn makes it way too easy for us to just click a button and “add people to our professional networks” — but that’s no excuse for you to act like an ass monkey about it and abuse the capability.

When you make the bold move to connect with someone, ditch the lame and lazy default LinkedIn message that’s sent with your request. All that tells someone is you couldn’t be bothered with explaining to them how you know them and why they should consider your request to connect. And let’s be honest: you don’t know 75% of the people sending these generic LinkedIn requests to your inbox, do you?

So quit sending them to mine!

If you can’t be bothered to explain to me HOW I know you, I can’t be bothered to respond to your request to connect. Your lame ass, generic LinkedIn request to connect holds just as much meaning as inviting me to your drum circle (I hate drum circles), an invitation to wash your car on Saturday (I don’t even wash my own car), or an invitation to run through a field of bees wearing a blanket of flowers with stamens and pistils heaving with pollen.

They’re all filed under Shit That Isn’t Going to Happen.

And if you think it’s hard, it’s NOT. Yesterday, I guest lectured at The Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Houston. It’s one of the top entrepreneurship programs in the nation. EVERY LinkedIn request I received from those students explained to me:

  • Who they are
  • That they saw me speak at U of H.
  • How I might remember talking to them, whether they’d be having office hours with me when I return today, or something they remembered from my talks.

Their average age was in their early 20s. What’s your excuse?

Truth be told, I don’t want to ever “join someone’s professional network on LinkedIn”. I don’t give a shit about your professional network and I don’t delude myself into thinking you give two frog’s fine ass hairs about mine. So if you’re going to ask, you’d better make it good.

On that note, some requests always come from people you’ve known forever — professionally — and they really need no introduction. The funny thing is that those requests are actually some of the most well-crafted requests I ever receive.

Some examples:

“I’d like to add you to my armada so I can one day sink your battleship. Figuratively speaking, of course. I think. Do you own a battleship?”

“Why the fuck aren’t we already connected on LinkedIn? I’ve eaten dinner at your house.”

“Erika, the time has come in our 3-year relationship to ask: will you be my LinkedIn connection? To pimp and promote, to whore article links and share job postings, till severance package (or other exit strategy) we part?”

What Do You Want From Me?

If you don’t know someone and you’re going to be ballsy enough to weasel your way into their professional world, sack up and explain what you want from them. And remember  — we’re not interested in “joining your professional network”.

When you send a request to connect, tell the person what they can hope to get out of making that connection.

And yes — it’s IS a game of What’s In It for Me. You’re coming into two of my inboxes and asking me for my time. While you might think it’s a small ask, asking for me to let you inside the world of people I consider to be colleagues is not a small ask. Some people don’t treat their networks that way, but many do.

Explain what you want and what’s in this proposed digital relationship for the person on the other side of your ask.

For. Fuck’s. Sake.

Whoa There, Nelly! Ease Up With the Asks!

I consider it an incredible gift to be able to travel and speak as part of my living. Through those activities, I meet a ton of amazing people all over the world.

But seeing someone speak at a conference — or hearing them on a webinar, podcast, or reading an article they wrote — doesn’t mean you can use their LinkedIn inbox as a workaround to compensating them for what they do for a living.

Here’s a list of shit that can stop on LinkedIn, and pronto:

  • The Novellas: Stop dumping into the inbox of someone you don’t know with your life’s history, timeline of your amazing business idea, or plea for help.
  • The General Vomit: Stop it with the vague asks on oh-so-general business subjects.
  • The Uber Ask: Unless you have explicit permission, stop it with the “I’m going to use LinkedIn to avoid paying for a consulting session” routine. I can’t explain how much free advice I’m asked to offer. And unless I’ve offered to give it to you (like I did with the students at U of H yesterday who couldn’t get a session during my office hours today on account of my slots being booked full), dumping your scenario into someone’s inbox with the hopes of “picking their brain” is rude. Just. Plain. Rude. Ask for permission. And if someone is valuable enough to have in your “professional network”, why don’t you respect them enough to compensate them for their expertise and insight?

Everyone in your LinkedIn network gets up and goes to work in the morning to do work for which they are paid. Even nonprofits pay their employees. LinkedIn messages and connection requests aren’t workarounds designed to help you avoid paying someone for at least an hour of their time. And whatever that hour of time costs — isn’t your career, happiness, and reputation worth it?

So Stop It

And I get it — not everyone takes their LinkedIn account as seriously as I do. I also need to be a bit less liberal about the requests I accept.

But whomever you’re reaching out to, please stop wasting their time.

Buttons that are easy to click shouldn’t always be clicked.

Not everyone wants to be your digital friend.

If you’re going to make the ask and fill up TWO of someone’s inboxes, don’t be a lazy motherfucker and insult that person with one of LinkedIn’s generic “OMGBEMYFRIENDLOL” messages.

Oh — and don’t say you’ve “done work together” at your company if you haven’t really. That shit just pisses me off.

Maybe we could all start viewing LinkedIn as the next level in our careers — a way to see what people are doing professionally, beyond the pithy quotes and Instagramed food shots. I see it as an RSS feed of thought. I do more thinking with the content I see shared on LinkedIn and within my LinkedIn groups than any other social network in my repertoire.

And if you want in on some of that, it damn well better be worth my time.

So stop wasting mine with your lamesauce. And stop wasting yours by sending out a slew of “connection” requests without rhyme or reason.

For all I know, you’re the clerk at my dry cleaner. And while he’s hilarious and a super nice person who makes my clothes all kickass before I head out on business trips, I don’t really need him in my “professional network”.

You’ve been slapped. Now stop acting like a LinkedIn ass monkey and get some fucking work done.

 

 

The Bitch Slap: Blinding Audacity

social media audacityHi…yeah – is Bullshit in? No, It’s okay. I’ll hold.

Bullshit always keeps you on hold, doesn’t it?

The lines of communication propriety have become inarguably blurred by technology. I addressed this awhile back in a diatribe/personal memoir on online stalking, but think it bears repeating in a slappier tone. So let me rack my Bitch Slapping hand like a shotgun and say this:

Our audacity is blinding.

The social web is a brilliant tool. If used wisely, it offers greater insight into those people who matter to us most. Friends, family, colleagues, customers and clients all now have the opportunity to share their lives to any degree they see fit – from conspicuous absence to annoying overshare and every iteration in between. But here’s the rub: just because you can see someone online doesn’t mean you know them. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have access to them.

I don’t know about you, but the level of faux-social intimacy bullshit I deal with every day is astronomical. There’s nothing I adore more than a personal note from a reader or having the opportunity to answer a question for anyone who asks, but my social networks are becoming overrun with people who think they know me. Well, ya don’t. Here’s what you know about Erika: the persona. There are a select group of people in the Inner Sanctum, the ‘hood. But the rest? You’re standing outside singing “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” and looking at an Irish Setter.

I know I’m not the only one who deals with this, so before I go from Erika to see-you-next-Tuesday in five paragraphs flat, let’s get to some common sense rules for the social web. These are my rules and perhaps not yours, but I think much of it is common sense. Let’s take a spin on the Train to Communication Propriety and stop this epically fucked devolutionary process back to knuckle dragging Neanderthals that club Jane on the head and drag her back into the cave so we can sneak a look at her Facebook profile when no one’s looking.

Text Messaging

If you get someone’s phone number, that’s a pretty coveted thing these days. Don’t blow up their phone with multi-part text messages. If it takes more than two texts to get your point across, pick up the goddamn phone and have a 30-second conversation. For fuck sake, if your fingers work to text, they work to dial. And yes, I am occasionally just as guilty of this as anyone else. Texts are great for where are you, what time, which brand of ketchup do you want? queries, but they suck ass for dialogue. Dial. The. Phone.

Facebook Profiles

I’ve been pretty lax with this but that’s about to change. My personal Facebook profile is for my family and friends. If I haven’t met you IRL (In Real Life), do you really need to see the pics of me and my girlfriends having dinner? No. Because that’s personal and requires a certain level of intimacy. I love connecting with my readers and hearing their stories and truly respect anyone who sends me a friend request with a clarification on how I know them. Just ask one of my besties, Merredith – I’d met her at a conference and was knee deep in shit, couldn’t remember and even denied HER friend request on Facebook. Alas, I’ve also now spent last Thanksgiving and Christmas at her family’s house. I also know quite a few people who use their personal Facebook profiles for their business colleagues and communications as well. That’s fine. That’s your decision.

But the moral is this: understand what you’re doing. Think about what you’re asking when you click “Add to Friends” on Facebook. It’s a pretty big level of ask. It’s not just a button. I built a Facebook Fan Page so people could reach Erika without seeing the things that really aren’t quite their business. And the same goes for you – you probably don’t think I need to see the pictures of your daughter’s birthday party or your brand of political rants. If someone you see online offers a link to their Fan Page on their blog, but not a link to their personal profile (ahem…coughs…points), maybe there’s a reason. It’s pretty audacious to ask to be let into someone’s personal life. Just think of who you’d let inside the front door of your house – any yahoo selling magazines or the person you share three yoga classes and carpools with each week? Methinks yoga person wins out.

Relationships Are Earned

This digital access we enjoy – it makes things way too easy. With a Google search, we can find most anyone and the only way to avoid being found is to stop putting it out there. But we should never forget that relationships are earned. Just as flinging a business card at someone doesn’t mean you’ll get them as a client, seeing someone online doesn’t mean you know them. Relationships built over the social web take time and nurturing, just as with any in-person relationship. Why should anyone “be your friend” after exchanging a few blog comments or tweets? After shaking your hand at a conference? I think a good rule of thumb is this: if you’d invite the person to a dinner party where you could only have 20 guests, would you invite them? Granted, the parties are different for both business and your personal life – you have to be the one who decides the boundaries – but we only have so much bandwidth.

Use your bandwidth wisely. Take the time to bask in deeper relationships instead of skipping rock after rock across the surface of human interaction. Stop collecting people in your personal life. In my eyes, I need a select group of incredible relationships, not a plethora of mediocre ones that detract from the time I can spend on the ones I truly want to nurture.

The Desire to Connect – Go Forth and Don’t Be a Douche

We want to feel connected and now we have all of these buttons (Like, Digg, Stumble, Reddit, Add to Friends, Follow, Buy) that give the illusion of connection – but how are we truly connected? When the shit goes down (as it has on this blog), who’s going to be there and have your back? Who’s going to notice if you’re gone?

More importantly – who will YOU notice when they’re gone and reach out to help when needs must?

My readers – you – you’re the reason I get to do what I love. You make me laugh, you’ve been there when all hell’s broken loose. And many of you have come to be my friends and I hope I get to meet each of you one day. I never expected to be invited to your weddings and I don’t know your parents. I only know the persona – what you choose to share with me. And I respect that. How can we change the culture of People Collecting into one where we keep building relationships, but on different levels? I treasure that I’ve earned each of you coming back, post after post. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. But no offense – I don’t really need you to listen in while I chat with my mom, y’know?

So, you’ve been slapped. And I have, too. Enough with the over-asking and false senses of familiarity because a button says we can have it with a click. It’s time for me to rethink just clicking a button and consider what those clicks mean. I tell my clients all the time: it’s not how many fans you have on the boat – it’s how many who would jump in to save you when the shit goes down. Even the Titanic had a max capacity, y’know?


LinkedIn Needs to Fire Their Direct Response Copywriter

A short post this morning prompted by an email from LinkedIn yesterday evening advising me that I had a new connection request:

LinkedIn Bad Email Image

My points of contention? Let’s see:

  • Random population of anyone’s “title” into the email. Total fail. Kinda like a Twitter auto DM.
  • The assumption that anyone requesting a connection with me would have an answer for any question of mine.
  • The assumption that their answers would be “high-quality.”
  • The fact that I’m going to show you your erroneous thinking in one image.

Sometimes fields that are auto-populated are not such a good idea. After all – if Old Spice can make it personal, so can LinkedIn.

Special thanks to @jodiontheweb for her quick hand at Photoshop today.

Social Networking: Such is the Way With Asshats and Defending Your Honor

asshats and honorA recent lunch with a colleague prompted a line that rang oh-so-true: “I spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning-up the mess that a previous firm has left behind.”

Such is the way with asshats and defending your honor. I run into the same situation repeatedly, and this week, I’m taking aim.

I spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out and chatting with folks just like me – consultants. Small business owners. The fact that we’re not of epic proportion doesn’t mean we don’t bring value – it just means we foot the bill for our own health insurance. But there are people in my own backyard that ooze their smarm and I’m sick of it.

Check out this dude. According to his LinkedIn profile, he’s been an “expert” on LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter since 1990.

Ummm…Yeah. Here’s the thing: YouTube was launched in 2005, LinkedIn launched in 2003 and Twitter in 2006.

He’s keyword stuffing, obviously, but it reeks of douche-tastic overtones.

This guy is in my own backyard here in Denver, Colorado. Ew, ew, ew. If you’re going to put yourself out there as a LinkedIn and social media expert, Mike – can I give you a few tips?

  • Do your research and don’t establish yourself as an expert in a field before the field or platform…even existed.
  • Don’t have a Twitter stream that filled with 90% broadcast-only messaging. Twitter and social media are places for conversations. Or do you charge people for that tasty nugget of knowledge?
  • It’s awesome you’ve “figured out” LinkedIn and self-published a book on the subject. After reading your profile, I”m tempted to self-publish a book on the top 10 worst LinkedIn profiles with yours at the top as an example of self-indulgent keyword stuffing in bogus job fields. Fail, my good man. Fail.
  • Really – you charge between $1,500 and $10,000 to show folks how to set up social media profiles, a basic WordPress blog (kinda like yours here, hosted ON WordPress.com?), and create Twitter & Facebook pages? Holy hell. Remind me to raise my prices, m’kay?

The reality is this: these people exist. How do you defend your honor against the asshats? Here are a few tips:

  • References. If you’re like me and the identity of your clients is often confidential, let your prospective clients know that and offer to connect them with your clients confidentially.
  • Best Practices. Follow them. Don’t be an expert – be a continual and willing student. Social media is a slippery slope and the best you can do is develop a solid knowledge base that’s going to morph (and delightfully so) with every footstep.
  • Know Who You Are. You’re not going to be everything to everyone. Align yourself with those who cook what you can’t.
  • Know Your Shit. In the end, only you can win a client. Clients will buy what they’re willing to be sold. I get clients day in, day out who were sold a bill of goods and then realize things aren’t working. I understand. It’s then we get to work setting them in the right direction.

There is no business that’s purely a number game. Twitter followers, Facebook fans, LinkedIn connections…they’re numbers, pure and simple. What you choose to DO with your network is one thing. How you choose to BUILD it is another. And here’s a hint – if you don’t do one of them properly, then the time you spent on the other is worth…well, jack.

PS: Check out an excellent read about competitors by @ShellyKramer – because really, Mike – I don’t want you to change a thing.

Have an outrageous Monday!

Keep Your LinkedIn Out of My Twitter

Keeping them separatedThe circle of life is complete. LinkedIn and Twitter struck a deal this week to offer LinkedIn users the ability to have their status updates on that network tweeted. How you say? If you haven’t visited your LinkedIn profile lately, click on Edit My Profile and right under Websites, you’ll see a section where you can now add a Twitter Profile.

It’s a relationship that swings both ways.

Twitter to LinkedIn

  • Include all updates from Twitter on your LinkedIn profile
  • Include only those tweets with the tag #in

LinkedIn to Twitter

  • Check the Twitter icon box next to your status update each time you update your LinkedIn status
  • Read this FAQ from LinkedIn for more details

It sounds dirty, but I’m keeping my LinkedIn out of my Twitter.

While I don’t argue that there’s value in linking your social networks, my LinkedIn is a separate animal from any of my other social networks. It is my resume, my legacy and my history. It is my clients, past colleagues and nitpicky details. While is it laden with my snarky personality (as that is my professional persona as well), I have built it solely as a landing page for potential clients and professional connections. While some of those connections cross over into other networks, I never wanted that to be the case.

If you’re considering using LinkedIn and Twitter for cross-sharing of status updates, consider this: there are no two social networks that should be used in exactly the same way.

If you treat your LinkedIn like your Facebook, that’s not making optimal use of either platform’s potential to grow your sphere of influence.

If you treat your Twitter account like your LinkedIn profile, you’re missing the boat as well.

I’ve always felt that Twitter, when used properly, is an ongoing dialogue. It’s a conversation that changes every day yet with an overwhelming sense of familiarity if you do it right. LinkedIn isn’t built for “conversing.” It’s built for sharing professional knowledge. Aside from the Q&A sections (on which I frequently participate) and messaging/introduction features, it’s a “broadcast-only” network. Sure, you can use any number of “plugins” to share your blogs and SlideShare shows, but I’ll hold fast that it’s not really an outlet I’ll use to enhance my Twitter stream or vice versa.

I’m curious about your thoughts. Twitter’s been digging forever for monetization opportunities and it appears that partnerships and data access are the path they’ve chosen. Does the LinkedIn addition just add to the keyword-drenched spam potential through status updates? Will every tweet and status update become yet another billboard for someone’s affiliate or blog network? Hit me below with your perspective. But for now, my Twitter will be LinkedIn-free. (hallelujah, less money spent on ointment)