Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How 'Good' are You?

I checked my emails this morning to find that I had been rated 'Good' on Ecademy by someone I had never previously interacted with. I then received a thank you from a fellow speaker for a testimonial I had posted on his LinkedIn profile, and asking about the etiquette for reciprocating.

This area of online networking can be a minefield for many. When do you rate someone as 'good'? Should you automatically offer a testimonial to someone who has provided one for you? What should you say in a testimonial?

Personally, I don't see the value in any reputation-based system that operates on the basis of 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours'. Such systems can only carry weight if the ratings and testimonials contained therein are based on genuinely positive interactions and experiences. I will rate someone as 'good' if my experience backs that up and I want other people to know that this is someone who can be trusted.

I will write a testimonial based on my experiences. Testimonials that say what a nice chap you are carry little weight in the commercial world. Testimonials need to demonstrate your abilities, the difference you make to clients, your value to prospects.

If you have a strong relationship with someone else and you are both in a position to offer strong, positive testimonials to each other, that is fine. It should be clear to the reader from the content of the testimonial that isn't simply a mutual appreciation society.

If you want to offer someone else a testimonial based on what they have done for you or for someone you have introduced them to, there is no need to expect one in return. Similarly, if someone endorses your services, don't feel the need to reciprocate unless appropriate.

A simple rule of thumb for you; if you receive a phone call from someone who has read your testimonial and wants to ask you more about that person, can you stand by what you have said and explain your reasons for endorsing them in more detail?

If the answer is 'yes', then great. If not, perhaps you shouldn't be endorsing them at all....yet.

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