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Ask McArdle: Do I have to endorse people back on LinkedIn?

If you have nothing nice to say about a connection, then try an endorsement that states the obvious.


(Illustration by Peter Arkle)

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Ah, LinkedIn endorsements. They may literally be the least you can say about a colleague. The social network often prompts users to affirm a connection’s specialized skills via a drop-down menu of standardized options. But dig deeper, and you can salute proficiency in anything from “fire eating” to “Internet memes.” And no, you are not obliged to return the favour.

“It’s not a quid pro quo,” says Leslie Hobbs, LinkedIn senior public relations manager. “You’re not required to endorse someone because they’ve endorsed you!” But doing so could help you.

By cross-checking skill recommendations and job titles, LinkedIn uses the data to better understand the work associated with particular roles—answering the age-old question of what consultants actually do. But if you can’t bring yourself to say something nice, say something obvious. Even the worst connection deserves an endorsement for “breathing.”

Got a management concern? Need to settle a debate? Ask CB’s resident expert in expertise, McArdle: @AskMcArdle