Just a few weeks ago, LinkedIn has made it even easier to give your colleagues (and have them give you) a new form of reference without all the writing time of a traditional reference. Enter the “endorsement”.

Based on the skills and expertise listed on your profile, your connections can, in just one click, endorse your individual experience. And, you can request endorsements from your connections, as well as freely provide them to someone else.

Before you start sending out requests, or running out and clicking on your connections skills, there is some best practices that you might want to follow.

If you have not yet added skills to your profile, you will want to do so now. To edit or add skills, visit your profile, and click on “edit” or “add a skill” in your skills & expertise section. In the search box, start typing the skill, and a default list will drop down of existing skills, which you can select, or create one of your own. You can also delete any skills that are either no longer relevant, or extraneous.

Revisit your skills and expertise to make sure you have a short, relevant, and appropriate list of skills for which you seek endorsement. You may find there are skills that are either no longer relevant, or are cluttering up your profile. Give your connections a tight focus on which to endorse you, so as not to water down those “votes”.

Consider that any endorsements you make to someone else’s profile will also increase the likelihood of people visiting your profile, as your actions will show up not only in your own activity feed, but in your endorsee’s feed.

Don’t feel obligated to keep endorsements that people have made for either skills that you do not feel are relevant, or are no longer the case. To remove an endorsement, click on the arrow next to the people who have endorsed a skill and then select “hide endorsement.”

Endorsements should not be a one-way street. We find the best way to get true endorsements is to pay it forward, and endorse other people on their skills. Through the value of the law of reciprocation, you are bound to get more endorsements if you give them first. Endorsements are also a great way to reconnect with former clients or old colleagues, by beginning the conversation with a nod of recognition for their skill set.

Be mindful not to endorse one person on every skill set they purport on their profile. While it may be simple enough to do, you want your “vote” to hold value. Endorsing too easily or frequently can negatively impact your own credibility.

Finally, consider the SEO ramifications of a well-chosen and endorsed set of skills. Your skills are hopefully also targeted keyphrases for your business, making it relevant for searches within the LinkedIn environment.

While endorsements are still in their infancy, they are an exciting new way to give – and get – authority in your key business areas, not only for you, but for your business. Request sparingly, and give wisely, and you could see your network explode with new connections, and new business opportunities.