Simon Kapenda: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Leadership Meetup Series

My next Meetup Series on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Leadership is on Saturday, February 19, 2011 at Protea Turinger Hof on Independence Avenue in Windhoek from 16h00 – 19h00. This is something you don’t wanna miss if you’re inspired to do bigger and greater things in your life. Search Facebook for this event to RSVP now. It’s free and is open to the public.

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Personal Endorsements and Connections for Sale or Exchange on LinkedIn?

Last week, I wrote and posted a blog article, titled “Real or Fake; How Reliable Are LinkedIn Professional Recommendations?“, and since then, I have received notes from different users, claiming that this kind of thing has been going on for a while on LinkedIn.

And it’s not just some users that are exchanging personal endorsements on LinkedIn, according to the Entrepreneur.com Blog, some LinkedIn users such as Steven Burda, have been exchanging personal connections in exchange for personal endorsements.

“It has been happening for quite some time. I have had people write their own endorsement and send it to me within minutes of connecting asking me to post it. I delete them instead. I would love to see this behavior stop.” Says Sheila Etheridge, Owner of SME Management.

Usually, when I browse through personal profiles for business contacts on LinkedIn, and I look at recommendations posted on any user’s profile, I generally regard that person as someone reliable and trustworthy as illustrated by the recommendations displayed on his or her profile.

But, I only now realize that, not all of the personal recommendations that are displayed on many of the LinkedIn users’ profiles are actually posted by users whom they have known or done business with or have worked with, but they might simply be a shrew of people selling, buying, trading and or exchanging personal endorsements for personal favoritism, and that simply means that these professional networking sites may not be as reliable as they seem to profess.

Now the question I have for LinkedIn is this: What are you going to do about this shrew of some of your registered users scamming, selling or buying, trading, and or exchanging personal connections and endorsements for personal favoritism or gain on your site?

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.

Can Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace Ruin Your Personality?

So, you created an account and have a profile on Facebook, Twitter, RentersQ, hi5, Bebo, Laatie, YouTube, Welate, MySpace, LinkedIn or wherever else online, and now what happens?

What is that you generally post on your profile? What kind of stuff do you post for your status update? What kind of groups and fan pages do you select to join? How do you behave online and what else do you do on any of these sites, the social media that you wouldn’t want people to know about you offline?

One thing for sure, and this is for everyone, everywhere, is that you should learn and know how to use social media to advance your career and make your life better; learn how to create and promote yourself by knowing what to, and not post on your profile, so you can one day get your dream job, or get into the college that you’ve always wanted.

In 5 – 10 years, it’s predicted that paper resumes and CVs will be a thing of the past; your online profile will become your real life resume when you apply for any job or to any college. So, remember that anything you post online, whether it’s your status update or those pictures from last night’s clubbing or pool party, the kind of pictures you wouldn’t want your parents, wife, husband, or kids to see, are automatically indexed and archived for search by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Be aware that your next employer and or college admission officer will certainly research you online; and your status updates data, including your posted photos maybe the things that may prevent you from getting whatever it is that you want.

When you go out, there are always those who randomly snap pictures with their camera phones and the next day you log onto your Facebook account, someone has tagged you in a photo, in which you appear in a compromising position, which you had no idea was being taken. So, be accountable for your social behavior online as you do offline.

Just because you hit the delete key on your keyboard doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve actually deleted your previously posted status updates or photos. They are never deleted permanently. Once you post them online, they are instantly streamed over the Internet and Internet search engines automatically index them for future search by anyone, anywhere.

So, be smart, stay informed. Completely fill out your online profile on any social networking site with your employment history as you would do in your resume, just the employer name, your job title, and a brief summary of your job responsibilities. This information will be crucial when you apply for a new job anywhere, because your next employer will likely do a search on you and that would help him or her make a fast informed decision in hiring you.

Use the social media for fun, but at the same time, use it to help advance yourself, your career, and your life; so that you may get what you want one day.

Life is all about competition, and everyone is out for him or herself. Make the social media to best work for you, so you can compete effectively and eventually win.

A Dream in the Making for Twitter’s Revenue Stream?

Today TechCrunch published an article about the dilemma Twitter may be facing in deciding its functional and accepted revenue stream model.

But if I recall correctly, didn’t Twitter hire a business manager a few months ago, whose aim might have been to develop their revenue stream model? What has he been working on thus far? I don’t foresee any other revenue models for Twitter other than placing paid ads within the tweets.

I don’t think there is a single user who would want to pay a subscription fee to follow some celebrities, no matter who may that be, unless a few fanatical users. Also, charging a fee for business accounts, as was reported on several blogs, may not even work since differentiating between a business and a non business account may be a daunting task.

Thus, the only option I see for Twitter’s revenue stream model is to place paid ads within the tweets or on the right side bar within the trend topics. Anything different may be detrimental to the explosive growth of Twitter.

LinkedIn, the Perfect Acquisition for Yahoo!, AOL, Facebook, or Microsoft?

Why hasn’t Microsoft or Yahoo, not Google, acquired LinkedIn yet? The struggling AOL could benefit from buying LinkedIn too. LinkedIn is a good target right now. Facebook could be a perfect fit for LinkedIn too, just not Google. Google and LinkedIn would be like butter and water, just won’t make a good mix, but its 40+ million professional users could add more value to AOL (as long as AOL changes its name and rebrands) or Facebook (especially if Facebook does an IPO this year), than is for Yahoo! or Microsoft. Facebook will benefit more from LinkedIn, due to LinkedIn’s solid business model of paid fees for value-added membership services for professionals.