You just visited your LinkedIn profile and realized your recommendations section is looking a little stale. You don’t want potential clients visiting your page and seeing irrelevant recommendations or even worse, no recommendations at all, so what do you do??
Below I’ve outlined several short actionable tips to walk you through every step of the recommendation process. If you already have a recommendation process, use these tips as a checklist to see what you might be missing out on!
If you are just beginning to build your recommendations, start with your current colleagues or clients. But only ask the people you have worked with and who know your work and skills. Don’t waste your time asking people you don’t know very well for a recommendation, because it will be off putting for them and it’ll result in a vague recommendation.
Set the client’s expectations at the beginning of the project by asking them if the project goes well, if they would be willing to write a recommendation for you at the end. If they agree, set a reminder for yourself at the end of the project, because he won’t remember otherwise!
If you have recommendations and testimonials from other places like your website or resume, reach out to the person who wrote it and ask them if they would repurpose by copying and pasting it on Linkedin. Go a step further and make it easy for them by telling them that you will just send them a request for a recommendation. That way it’s easier for them and they are much more likely to actually follow through.
Writing an excellent recommendation for someone will often times leads to that person reciprocating the act and writing one for you. This is an excellent byproduct of recommending others, but it should not be your primary tactic for increasing the number of recommendations you have. If you have to guilt somebody into writing your recommendation, you probably don’t deserve it and they aren’t going to write it like they mean it.
If you are just starting out, shoot for getting at least 5 to 7 recommendations as a baseline on Linkedin. This is a great way to give potential clients who are doing the research on you more information about you but not from you. It will go a lot further than anything you could say.
If you already have several LinkedIn recommendations, don’t confine them only to LinkedIn. Use them in other places such as your website, case studies, collateral or your resume. Just make sure that you have permission from the person who wrote the recommendation to do so.
LinkedIn allows you to recommend people based on the position that they served you in. Make sure that you have an even number of recommendations for the relevant jobs or positions you’ve been in and that they stay up to date. I know we’ve all seen the guy who has 15 recommendations on LinkedIn, but when we go to check them out, they are for a position he held six years ago in another industry. That can hurt your personal brand more than not having any recommendations because you’ll look like a burn out.
Often times the person recommending you won’t know exactly what to say. I always advise to give them a few actionable points that they can use in their recommendation.
One very good exercise to do is at the beginning of a project, write out a few sentences of what you want the outcome to be or what you would want the testimonial that someone is writing about your project to be. That will really help guide you through the project.
For example, “Joel helped us incorporate a content marketing strategy into our marketing plan which resulted in a 30% increase in qualified leads and an average of four new clients a month.”
That is a great goal for me and a fantastic recommendation from a client.
If you or your company offers several different services, then try to get recommendations to highlight each of those services so you can showcase them when you are working with prospects. This strategy complements the tip above on getting actionable recommendations.
Prospects don’t only want to see that you are reputable overall, but that you’re knowledgeable in specific skills.
Vary the types of recommendations you give and get. If you look at someone’s profile who only has recommendations from peers but never any bosses, you’re going to wonder what’s going on. Try to vary them by getting recommendations from around your company, different companies and different time periods across your career.
If you’re new to asking for recommendations, this might be uncomfortable, but most busy people want help writing their recommendation from you. The worst thing that can happen is having someone write a vague, fluffy recommendation that doesn’t make you or them look good.
To avoid that, don’t make them ask for help. Include the skills and traits you’d like highlighted in their recommendation to you in your request.
Only give recommendations to people who truly deserve them. A good rule of thumb I like to go by is, If you wouldn’t recommend that person to a client or a friend, don’t recommend them on LinkedIn.
Always ask for recommendations in person or over the phone. This is a personable process where you’re asking someone to put their name behind you. It needs to be treated like that.
Once you ask the person and they accept, I like to tell them I’ll follow up by sending them a recommendation request on Linkedin with some suggestions on what I’d love for the to highlight in their endorsement.
Never request a recommendation out of the blue or to someone you haven’t kept in touch with for awhile. You need to have a good reason for approaching the person. In other words, you need to have earned it.
Some people like to request recommendations at the beginning of projects or at the end. That’s a personal preference, just nail down what timing works best for you.
Don’t forget to say thank you after the person took the time to write and post a recommendation for you! Do something for them that they might not expect. Write them a recommendation back or send them a thank you note. Small gestures like that aren’t forgotten, especially now as people get less and less physical mail.
Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife, son, and daughter.