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How to Prove You’re Really Good on LinkedIn With Social Proof

One of the regular threads that I see in LinkedIn groups is how to find an expert on X or how do I check that Y is right for me, I’m sure you’ve seen them?

LinkedIn profiles are a great place to start, as they contain the representation of the person in their own words and also give you a great indication of the expertise, the true value and insights that they can share on your subject of choice.

If you meet someone who says all the right words when you meet, in the right way and you like their style, just take a moment to check out their LinkedIn profile too. Does it reflect the conversation, the style, the words and expertise that you liked about them when you met face to face? Or does it tell a different story. If it is the latter you might want to do a little more homework. For ideas read on.

One of the most often asked question of late is what about these (insert expletive) endorsements?

Ok, let me give you my view. They’re a hygiene factor, a tick the box type part of your LinkedIn profile. For example if the person you met was a social media “guru” (then alarm bells should ring anyway, as I don’t believe they exist, see this old blog ) and when you looked at their profile they didn’t have endorsements for all of the key social media platforms then alarm bells should start to ring.

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Now you might notice that I am saying some at this stage not hundreds. The functionality was well intended by LinkedIn as a quick visual check for expertise and insight but it got gamed. People are endorsing people without having experienced that skill and hence it erodes the value perception of the users, shame really but that’s life.

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Endorsements do have a role, but more of that another time.

What you can do and trust is to review the recommendations that people have on LinkedIn, looking carefully both at the number they have, in terms of a sufficient number in that role or focusing on the services you need but also look at who has written them. For example you want to be looking for good recommendations, those from clients in your space or those from senior executives, peers or similar roles to yourself in companies that you recognise. Those recommendations that they have from colleagues, their own team or worse still their own family (!!) are less valuable when you’re looking for that critical social proof. If you want to take it to the next level then talk to the people that have written them, check they’re credentials, nothing beats speaking to someone does it?

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The other place to check is their company profile, to check that the particular product or service is listed and that it too has happy clients and glowing recommendations, otherwise you might be the pilot or first client, not an ideal place to be! You should also look at who has written these and again if they are from employees of the business then I would exercise some caution as if the staff are the only people recommending it then it would be setting off red flags of caution in my head.

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Those with a healthy dose of cynicism might also want to approach the people that have written recommendations for the person or product and see what they say when you actually talk to them. It is sometimes amazing the different perspectives you get when you actually talk to people – it’s the future and the best way quite often post LinkedIn.

If you’re connected to the people on LinkedIn at level one (i.e. you’ve accepted an invite from them or sent them one which they have accepted) then you can also look at their profile (bear in mind that depending on how you have set up your account (even a free account) they might see that you are looking at them) and see their profile and interactions on LinkedIn.

On the persons profile I would be looking for connections that are in other companies that you respect, looking to see if their messages and interaction on LinkedIn “walk the walk” of what they have talked to you about, do they support and enhance that perspective. For example an expert in a particular subject would talk about that or events or whatever related to that area wouldn’t they? You’d be amazed sometimes, so do check.

You should also take some time to scroll down and check their profile for the sorts of groups they are in. Would you expect them to be in professional body groups, areas of interest groups, client groups as well as the “things” they might just be interested in, if not again I would look a little deeper. You might also be surprised to find they are in irrelevant groups such as your competitors, learning how to do what you expect them to be expert in groups or even job seeking groups – which again should ring alarm bells and cause you to review again.

I hope that helps you to find some really good people. What do you do to validate the people that you think can help you on LinkedIn? Any other ideas?

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