Seems like a few people have a block when it comes to writing a paragraph or two to endorse a friend on LinkedIn. I guess there may be some psychological forces at play here, but I don't want to venture into pop psychology. I will approach this as a writing task that some seem to fear.
Of course, engineers are notorious for their hatred of "documentation". And here they are asked to "document" their opinion of a colleague and publish it to a small audience of 16 million people, and have it attached to their profile.
First, a very simple principle. Honesty is of the utmost importance. It must be avoided at all costs (as Linda Radnor says - not sure of her name - Vegas comedian ). Not really. Your endorsement must be honest, factual, and accurate. But there is some subtlety to be noted here. Feelings intrude! You may say to yourself: he's a good professional, but I don't like him! He is blah, blah and not blah, blah. Last year he did blah and said blah, blah which upset me.
That's where professionalism comes in.You can work with someone as professionals. You don't have to like them to endorse them! You are a professional, that's the meaning of professionalism. You just write a factual review documenting how you knew the person. You don't need to get into personal feelings and relationship issues.
Ok. Now that we got the "honesty" issue out of the way, how do we proceed? Isn't it amazing, many of us develop supremely complex products, write thousands of lines of code, and produce prodigious architecture and design documents, yet we freeze when it comes to this simple task of endorsing a colleague.
Here is a proposed, simple method:
1. Get the facts down. How do you know this person? How long have you known him/her? In what capacity? What projects did you work on together? What where his contributions? What were his good qualities (ignore bad qualities and bad situations or confrontations - not relevant to the task at hand). So here you have the basic facts. Just the facts, Ma'am!:
I have known Zultan for X years. We worked together on Blibity Blip project and Blobity Blop framework. Zultan brought knowledge of blips, blops, and frombozing to the team. His knowledge of blips and blops, and frombozing was amazing. He is the most knowledgeable person I have met in this area. In addition to knowing about blips and blops, Zultan has extensive experience in weaving blips into blops, bla bla. Facts, facts, projects, tasks. This should be a simple matter of making a list. A list you can abstract from.
2. Write about general abilities, and general team/collaboration characteristics: intelligence, hard work, problem solving ability, perceptiveness, ability to quickly narrow down options, etc. etc. Collabortion, sharing knowledge, helpfulness to others, jumping in, etc. Attributes you have noticed that Zultan shines in. Try to suppress your thoughts that sometimes he can be an ass, or a know-it-all, or whatever other negatives! Leave all negatives out. You can think them, and even have them in your draft. But they stay out of the endorsement, and they don't stop you from completing it. Again, you don't have to love the person, or even like them, as long as you respect, value, and can honestly endorse their work and work-related personal attributes. Stay professional.
3. Write a general endorsing blurb, that does endorse, and not leave the write up in a wishy-washy non committal place. "I would love to work with Hephzebah again". "It would be a pleasure to work with her again". Resist the negative thoughts about, "I never want to work with this ... again, if I can help it".
If you still find you have a block, go back to college and take a course on remedial English - you are hopeless. An easier course of action would be to call your colleague and politely say, "sorry, can't do this, my grandmother died , our entire neighborhood does not have electricity, or my camel is having a baby - or any other equally lame excuse you can muster to hide the fact that you can't write a paragraph! Another, equally lame thing to do, is to resort to an "endorsement generator". Yes, you can write an endorsement with one click, followed by Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V. Google that.
My rule of etiquette for LinkedIn endorsements is to return the favor in under 24 hours. I try to do it within hours, of receiving the notice. If someone endorses you, and you don't return the favor, you are rude. If they ask you explicitly for an endorsement, and you ignore them for days, or weeks, then you are beyond rude. You clearly don't want the person to be in your contacts list. The honest thing to do is to remove them and break off the connection. I remove people like that from my contacts list. That's the LinkeIn acid test. If someone won't give you an endorsement when you ask for it, what point is there in having them as a contact?