Prospective employers and clients are using LinkedIn to discover more about you and to help them decide whether or not to engage you.Your LinkedIn profile is essentially an advertisement to the world of who you are in your career. As with any form of advertising, the rule of social proof shows that other people’s opinions will significantly impact a consumer’s choice.
One of the best ways to provide social proof is through the LinkedIn recommendations. Essentially a testimonial about you, they boost your profile and can convince the prospective employers or clients that you have the skills that the need. A series of good testimonials will make you stand out from the crowd.
Although straight forward in theory, the reality is that LinkedIn recommendations can be a bit of a minefield. It can be awkward to know how to ask for a recommendation and an inappropriate recommendation can have a negative impact on you.
Who to ask for LinkedIn recommendations
The golden rule of LinkedIn recommendation is to only ask for testimonials from people that fit the profile for the type of user that you are trying to attract.
Whether you’re job hunting or looking for new business customers getting recommendations from satisfied clients will always help.
If you’re purely job hunting then ex-bosses are a good source of recommendations.
Your client/customer base and ex-employers are the best source of recommendations because their experience of you will be largely professional and they tend to speak about their experience objectively.
The ideal time to ask for a recommendation is immediately after you have just done something well and they are happy with the service provided or the job that you did. Their recent memory of a complex / difficult project that you delivered on, will make it highly likely that they will mention it specifically or at least to allude to it.
Recommendations from co-workers can be disingenuous and usually carry little weight with LinkedIn readers. Additionally, if you have a close/friendly relationship with your colleague, there is a chance that they may talk about you on a more social than professional level, or give your recommendation the silver bullet with something along the lines of “…is a great worker and a whole heap of fun to have in the office. I never laughed so much as when we worked together. Remember those crazy Friday sessions!?”.
How to ask for LinkedIn Recommendations
A lot of people feel awkward asking for testimonials and often end up asking simply ‘can you recommend me?’ and then leaving it to the fates to see what they get.
The problem with this is that if that person writes a testimonial for you and you’re not happy with it, there isn’t much recourse without giving the impression of being ungrateful.
If you direct the person to mention a specific project or ask them to speak about your positive attributes or characteristics it can help improve the impact of the recommendation.
It’s easy to forget that it’s just as difficult for someone to write something positive about you as it is for you to ask them for a recommendation. Many people can be unsure of what to write, or how to write it and get writer’s block, so they may welcome some direction to help put something together.
Some helpful prompts could be:
“Could you please write a short recommendation for me and include some reference to:
- my work ethic / team orientation / ability to deal with stress or crisis situations / customer care / ability to deliver results / a (specific) project we worked on together / technical knowledge, etc..
- what you think my strengths are and how I apply them to my work
“I’m going for a [xxxxxxxxx] role and need to highlight my expertise in [xxxxxxxx]. Could you say something about this?”
Also, try to get different people to comment on different attributes if you have, so that recommendations are not top heavy in one area only. A balanced spread of attributes listed on your profile will provide the best showcase for your capabilities.
Finally, if you ask someone to give you a LinkedIn recommendation there is an immediate prompt from LinkedIn to post a recommendation for that person and an expectation is created that you will reciprocate.
Don’t feel obliged to write a recommendation in return – at least not immediately.
Mutual recommendations are often seen as insincere, especially if written at the same time. If you are not selective in your recommendations and write recommendations for just anyone it can cheapen what may in fact be a genuine recommendation for someone else.
|Photo by szeke|