Real or Fake; How Reliable Are LinkedIn Professional Recommendations?

Are there certain people selling or trading LinkedIn’s professional recommendations or endorsements for their own self promotion on LinkedIn? If yes, then how can you actually determine whether a professional recommendation posted on someone’s profile on LinkedIn is actually genuine? Are there any issues which may be deemed questionable or unethical when coming to some recommendations posted on LinkedIn users’ profiles?

As it’s generally known, most employers and business partners around the world are making use of checking LinkedIn and most other social network sites for professional references and employment history and information for anyone they may consider hiring or appointing to a new project or employment position within their companies.

linkedin_logo

LinkedIn Logo

As such, LinkedIn (linkedin.com) and other professional networking sites such as Xing (xing.com) have become the point of employment information and it’s predicated that within the next 5 to 10 years, paper resumes and CV may become a thing of the past. As more and more employers use such as these professional networking sites for prior employment information.

Some of the useful tools on these professional networking sites are the ability for anyone to create and post a recommendation summary on anybody’s profile for any prior type of professional relationship, such as someone who has directly or indirectly worked with anyone on any project and that someone may find it beneficial to write a recommendation summary, describing the qualifications, experience, skills, strength, and or the abilities of that individual.

These tools, compared to the traditional references usually attached to employment resumes and CV may be considered more effective due to the fact that one can have as many recommendations on a profile as possible, without wasting papers with names and addresses.

Whereas, for the paper resume and CV references, one usually list only 3 or 4 persons as deemed appropriate to provide professional recommendation for that individual. And, these usually include former supervisors, business acquaintances, or academia references. The good thing with paper resume and CV references is that you can actually call them directly at the provided phone numbers and speak directly to them in regard to the referenced individual.

For online personal or professional recommendations posted by whomever on most people’s profiles on these sites such as LinkedIn, are simply summaries written by people, almost anyone, and then are posted on LinkedIn profiles. Providing a recommendation on LinkedIn doesn’t generally require any type of implicit verification criteria, because you simply follow easy steps and then post your recommendation summary on anyone’s profile.

And once the other party has received and accepted your recommendation, then that’s it, your recommendation is instantly visibly displayed for anyone to see. But, the tools allow you to control who views any recommendation summary posted on your profile.

Generally, the more recommendation one’s profile has the more trustworthy and reliable that individual may appear. As it is rather appealing for someone with gazillions of personal or professional recommendations to be more trustworthy and reliable when you consider doing business with him or her; after all, he or she has a LinkedIn profile with lots of personal and or professional recommendations from and posted by many different individuals as displayed on his or her LinkedIn profile.

In the last few months, I have been flooded by some users on LinkedIn, asking me to write-up recommendation summaries for them in exchange that they do the same for me. These are people I have never dealt with, people I have never talked to or exchanged email messages with, people I have never done business with, and just people who simply are out there harvesting recommendations.

Here is an example of an inbox request that I received today on LinkedIn from someone in Jordan;

RE: Exchange recommendation:

Dear Simon,

Modar Suleiman has referred me to you. He is one of the employees working at my company and he said that you accepted to exchange recommendation with him.

My name is Hesham Zreik and I’m CEO of ZGroup Mobile where Modar works. You can see that Modar Suleiman recommends me highly. I hope we can exchange recommendation together.

I hope you stress on my leadership/management skills as well as my technical ability to lead a big team in a startup and bring it up to the high level.

Thanks a lot in advance. I will recommend you back if you want. If you are perplexed on what you can write, then I can write it out for you.

Regards,
Hesham

I have no idea who this person is; I checked out his LinkedIn profile, I mean we are connected on LinkedIn, and I have checked out his company’s web site, but I’ve never worked with him on any project or assignment. And for him to ask me to amplify his leadership and management skills, what should I say? I have never worked with him, he’s based in Jordan and I am in the U.S., so how can I recommend his leadership and management skills?

Okay, I have to admit, that Modar and 3 other employes of ZGroup Mobile have inboxed me on LinkedIn, asking me to write them recommendations, and I thought it was just an innocent thing to do, and so I did it for Modar and another guy and then in return, Modar posted a recommendation on my profile, but after I looked at the recommendations he has posted on other people’s profiles on LinkedIn, they were the exact same recommendations as the one he posted on my profile.

And that just didn’t make me feel good. A recommendation posted on my profile by someone I have never done business with just didn’t feel right. As the time went by, I continue to receive more requests of the same type, from different people on LinkedIn, people asking me to exchange recommendations. So, I went back and retracted my recommendation for him, because it was not real. I just don’t feel right and comfortable to recommend anyone that I have never dealt, worked or done business with.

So, if this is what is going on at LinkedIn, or on any other professional networking sites, people asking to exchange professional recommendations, then how effective are these professional networking sites and how reliable are their professional recommendation tools?

If you are the type of individual who depends on doing business with some people you meet on LinkedIn, and you base your business dealing and relationship with them based on those recommendations, then how do you actually know that the recommendations listed on that individual profile is genuine?

These issues raise some ethical and trustworthiness questions about LinkedIn professional recommendations, and this calls for LinkedIn to instantly look into this. Good business should be based on an actual event that has actually transpired, not on infrared and made up, fake activities.

Oh yeah, rumor has it that someone is actually developing an online marketplace for buying and selling professional recommendations for LinkedIn and Xing. Now, how cool is that?

Be sure to check out a blog article on Entrepreneur.com titled “Can LinkedIn’s Connection Limit Hurt Entrepreneurs?” That blog article further illustrates more cool stuff how some people on LinkedIn are harvesting recommendations and connections for their own selfish needs.

The site Craigslist.org was once one of the finest places on the Internet where you could find all kind of useful stuff, but recently, it has become a slum place for all weird sorts of things; prostitution, and the heavily reported, the Craigslist Murder case.

Could a similar thing happen to the professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, with people harvesting and collecting personal connections; trade and or exchange personal endorsements and recommendations for their personal gain? If so, then what does it mean for the future of online personal recommendations, and let alone; the professional networking sites?

Updates:

A LinkedIn inbox message from Modal Suliman

On November 19, 2009, Modal Suliman posted a comment below stating that I am the one who initiated, asking him to recommend me and in return he  recommends me?

That’s not true, on the left side is the copy of the screen image of the LinkedIn inbox message that Modal Suliman had initially sent me on LinkedIn, asking me to recommend him.

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6 thoughts on “Real or Fake; How Reliable Are LinkedIn Professional Recommendations?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Real or Fake, How Reliable Are LinkedIn Professional Recommendations? « Simon Kapenda -- Topsy.com

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  3. But it was you who asked for an endorsement in the first place. When i got your request, I thought that you have sent it to all of your networks. So I replied with a request for a swap recommendation based on our profiles.
    So i really don’t understand how can you criticize something when you initiated it. It’s similar to the policeman who proposed to get bribed, then writes on his/her blog that bribing is not acceptable and I had to withdraw it. Got my point?

  4. I think you inadvertently discovered a fraud plot… I received a LinkedIn message looking for partership with this very same company… tho I haven’t ever worked with mobile applications… This seems so random that I immediately thought of a Nigerian scam…

    I haven’t checked the user profile, but I think that if they got a lot of “exchanged” recommendations, this can lead to a false sense of confidence towards them not only for employment, but also for business partnership.

    Message received:

    Dear Carlos,
    My name is Jonathan and I work at ZGroup Mobile. ZGroup mobile is a developer and publisher of mobile games/apps and other content since more than 13 years!
    We have an appstore that is available on flat subscription fee. It’s unique worldwide and has a potential to generate usd 2-5 million per year. We are looking for partners for such store. Please check the presentation to understand more of our idea and we believe it will change the whole mobile apps ecosystem: http://www.slideshare.net/zgroupmobile/zgm-appstore-proposal.
    Please check a demo of the store at:
    http://204.45.208.90/a/mobayle/
    . The appstore comes with a mobile application to allow access of the store similar to google play.
    You can also check a video of a native ap of the store on Android and iOS:
    ios: http://youtu.be/wYXH8qwGIR4
    Android: http://youtu.be/fI6YHSwI7pA
    There are other videos in the presentation already for another version.

    We have also a huge catalog of mobile content (mobile games, apps, ringtones, wallpapers, videos and themes that are available for distribution). We are looking to find partners who can help us distribute our content.
    I am an open networker and I accept all invitations 🙂
    Looking forward to hear from you soon.
    Cheers,
    Jonathan Bott
    Email: Jonathan.bott@zgroup-mobile.com
    Sales – AppStore Product
    Tel: +1 (504) 233-2335
    Website: http://www.zgroup-mobile.com
    Company Presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/zgroupmobile/zgroup-mobile-company-presentation

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