8 things to remember when using LinkedIn recommendations

LinkedIn recommendations appear to divide the online community into two: those who believe they are a valuable part of an on-line persona and those who do not. I happen to fall into the former camp and here’s why.

According to research done by Miller, Williams and Hayashi and published in their book “The 5 Paths to Persuasion” three types of people accounting to 66% of the buying population want to know that you have successfully done for somebody else what you are offering to do for them.

So two thirds of those people you are pitching to are thinking “I wonder if this person can really do it?”. Of course case studies and testimonials are extremely valid ways to tick this mental box and I’m all in favour of using them but what about those people who took the time to research you before you even met and have already formed their opinion.

Using LinkedIn recommendations enables you to start the persuasion process even before you have met your prospective client. If enough people say your are good at what you do it’s bound to have an effect. Ok it might not make the sale on its own (I wish!) but it will get you off to a great start.

So how can we approach LinkedIn recommendations to get the most from them. Here are 8 guidelines you should bear in mind.

1. Avoid back-scratching.

If you accept a recommendation LinkedIn encourages you to give one in return. This looks a trifle contrived and should be avoided. If you do want to reciprocate then leave it for a month or so before you do so.

2. Be choosy.

There is no point having huge amounts of duplicate recommendations. Sure it is great for your personal brand if the recommendations all have a similar message but nobody is going to read the same thing over and over. They may even think you wrote them all yourself!

3. Don’t be afraid to ask.

It is always nice to receive a surprise recommendation but don’t leave it to chance. If you have completed a piece of work for somebody and you know they are happy with it then ask for a recommendation. Although LinkedIn does this for you I believe it is good practice to telephone or speak in person to your potential recommender and ask them if they would do it before you send the LinkedIn request.

4. Avoid internal recommendations.

It is unlikely that your boss or co-workers will write a bad recommendation for you. Everybody knows this which means that too many internal recommendations are not a good idea. Sure getting your boss or somebody from another department to write a few words is no bad thing but don’t overdo it – go for external recommenders if you can.

5. Recommend others.

There is no finer gift than an unsolicited recommendation. If somebody has done something remarkable or even did what they promised (alarmingly this it becoming more and more remarkable these days) then sending over a LinkedIn recommendation is a great way to say “thank you”.

6. Honesty at all times.

If you are called upon to write a recommendation for somebody who you feel you cannot give a unconditional thumbs up for it is vital that you do not mislead people who may read what you have written. Think of things that are positive and true and write them no matter how mundane they may be otherwise perhaps you should just ignore the request and hope for the best.

7. Talent and favour.

When you write a recommendation it is sometimes difficult to know what to put. If this is the case my advice is to say what that person is good at (talent) and what you really like about them (favour). An alternative is to write about a specific thing that they did for you. In either case I refer you back to point 6 above.

 8. Say thank you.

This goes without saying really but based on my own experiences I thought I’d say it anyway. My rule is if somebody does something above and beyond the call of duty they get a thank you and recommendations definitely qualifies in my book.

I’m not sure if you agree with me when it comes to recommendations but if you do then my advice is to be proactive when asking for and giving and always be honest in what you write.

I would be interested to hear your comments on this subject as it does appear to generate some quite strong feelings.


Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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4 comments on “8 things to remember when using LinkedIn recommendations
  1. Or, for those tricky times when you really need an entirely fake and unsubstantiated recommendation, try http://endorser.org/ where you can enter your recommendee’s name, role (so long as it is IT, general or salesman – yes, MAN) and generate a series of random commendations.

    • Mike Ames says:

      Brilliant Karen! I just got a recommendation for a fictitious colleague: Fred Bloggs and here it is “As I remember, Fred Bloggs was a very productive person. Very good team player. Smart, great and detail oriented co-worker with a very strong dedication to work. Lots of work and little talk – that’s Fred Bloggs’s way! It’s a pleasure working with him as he is a deadline oriented colleague.” ha ha ha

  2. I find having/giving a few recommendations is helpful, but I’m not at all sure that recommendations from present or former work colleagues are necessarily objective or reliable. I garee that ‘thank you’s’ never go amiss!

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Mike Ames

Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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