Throughout January, The Social Path is running daily tips on how to improve your social life — online, at least. Click here to learn more.In just a few years, we've become a consumer culture fueled by peer reviews. Our movie rentals, our travel destinations, our flat-screen TVs -- each is determined largely by the ratings and reviews we browse online.
But what about our peers themselves? Until LinkedIn came along, it would have been strange to imagine "reviewing" a person, especially one you know and trust. But now it seems strange how often we don't do it.
In fact, recommending peers on LinkedIn has even had its own backlash, largely due to what could best be described as "reference farming." When people (usually job-hunters) put out a call for recommendations, the results can be high in quantity but debatable in quality.
Last year, digital strategy guru Jeremiah Owyang wrote that he was done writing LinkedIn recommendations because he felt they too often were seen as "puffery:"
"Although I’ve only given honest recommendations in LinkedIn, I won’t be giving anymore recommendations on that platform (at least for the foreseeable future), instead, I’ll use my blog and Twitter to provide them in a more organic area where there aren’t obvious filters – making the recommendations count even more. The challenge of course is finding them will not be easy."
I can relate to Jeremiah's concerns, and I'm sure he was being hit up for such reviews far more often than I am.
But I prefer a different solution: Recommend those who deserve it, not just those who ask for it.
That's why today, I'd like you to think about three people who've added considerable value to your professional life. Who are the unsung heroes, the selfless sharers who would be unlikely to ask for your praise?
Why just three? Why not three a day every day for the rest of 2010? Because I think it's important to be selective and really prove that your recommendations are not given lightly.
Interestingly enough (and I swear I didn't know this when I set out on today's goal), LinkedIn's team itself recommended the same thing in response to Jeremiah's 2009 post:
There were dozens of names that came to mind for me, but for a variety of reasons, I picked a pretty diverse pool of social media minded peers to recommend:
- Andrea Hill, Director of Social Media and Interactive Technology at Worldways Social Marketing. Why recommend Andrea? Because, like my other picks, she is far more focused on learning and sharing than she is on promoting herself. Also, maybe it'll help motivate some folks to go check out her presentation at South By Southwest.
- Scott Hepburn, PR pro and principal at Media Emerging. Why recommend Scott? Because his blog and Twitter conversations have consistently provided some of the best forums for how social media is changing the PR industry.
- Michael Bertoldi, freelance copywriter. Why recommend Michael? While still in the early phases of his marketing career, Michael has become one of the most active social media enthusiasts in my high-techy hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. I personally feel Michael is one great opportunity away from truly establishing himself in the field, and if there's even a small chance my recommendation could help bring that opportunity about, then it's more than worth the few minutes of my time.
Who are your three to recommend? Be sure to let us know in the comments.
Benefits: Paying it forward within your professional network.
Related post: Flesh out your LinkedIn public profile.
Photo credit: LinkedIn headquarters shot by Jerry Luk on Flickr.