LinkedIn Recommendations – Ugh, Do I Have To?
…recommendations, built up over time, enable you to give a different voice to what you bring to the table
By Samantha (Sam) McKenna, JDSUPRA, April 24, 2020
A LinkedIn recommendation has the ability to speak on your behalf and detail what the experience of working with you is like.
This is your opportunity to showcase testimonials from a wide spectrum of your network – former clients, peers, college and law school professors, internal cross-functional partners, current clients, graduate program research partners, clients who have purchased from you multiple times – you name it. These are individuals who know you professionally, who likely have learned about your personal side, and who can be an advocate for your character and what it’s like to work alongside you.
If you do only three things on your LinkedIn profile, my recommendation is to invest time in your headline, your “About” section, and your recommendations. Many of your standard sections (picture, work history, education) are likely done, but the three aforementioned sections take time.
Think about a buyer’s journey when they visit your LinkedIn profile.
They’ll find you if you have a headline that specifically states the problem you can solve for them (Fail: Sales Director, Win: Helping Organizations Never Miss a Job Change Alert Again Fail: Partner, XYZ firm, Win: Attorney Helping Establish Early Stage Tech Companies in IP Law).
Then, they’ll want to learn more about you, and they’ll run down to your recommendations to see who has advocated for you and why.
So, how do we get started with LinkedIn recommendations?
First, it’s important to note that some professionals (e.g., attorneys) have compliance considerations, but with a little mindfulness, you can easily remain compliant. Consider that your recommendation should be more experience-focused vs. superlative and opinion-focused. For example, noting, “Bill is the best lawyer in Florida” won’t fly as it’s unverifiable, but making notes like, “Bill offered sage advice on our matter, was extremely responsive to our communications, brought humor to our engagement and demonstrated knowledge about our industry” is perfectly acceptable.
Second, to get going on your recommendations, think about the list of individuals I named above and make a list of twenty of those that you believe would offer you a testimonial. Then, before the end of the week, ask three of them if they would be willing to participate and, in the meantime, add the next three people (and so forth) to your calendar, in six to eight week increments, so that you start to build a cadence and routine of asking for recommendations.
By doing this, you’ll avoid the mistake that many make, which is to suddenly have a spike in random recommendations. This signals to the reader that you either are or were looking for a job and you temporarily got your LinkedIn act together but never followed through to keep the momentum going. Instead, demonstrate consistency and follow through by building this cadence, which will also allow people to see your true brand as reflected by consistent positive performance.
When I ask for a recommendation, this is my go-to. Feel free to copy/paste/make it your own:
“Hi Sarah! I wanted to send you a quick note to ask if you wouldn’t mind writing me a recommendation on LinkedIn. We’ve worked together on so many projects over the course of these three years, and your insights would be really valuable as other buyers consider hiring me for this same line of work. No pressure whatsoever and I completely understand if it’s against company policy to do so, but appreciate your consideration nonetheless.”
I’m doing two things in this ask – I’m giving logic for why I want Sarah to write the recommendation (this isn’t for my ego), and I’m showing self-awareness by understanding that not everyone may want to write a recommendation and am offering her an easy opt-out, if she needs it.
What should go in a recommendation?