Who to Ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation

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One of the most frequently-asked questions about LinkedIn relates to the art and science of Recommendations. As a key element of your complete presence on the site, these require your attention.

Who's the Best Person to Ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation?

A LinkedIn Recommendation is a testimony of your professional value written by one of your first degree connections. A first degree connection is another LinkedIn user with whom an invitation to connect was sent and accepted.

These testimonies are attached to a position on your LinkedIn profile under the Experience section. Therefore, a Recommendation is testimonial about your effectiveness in a given role.

A Recommendation can be requested from one of your first degree connections, or it can be sent by a first degree connection unsolicited—more about this below.

The Why of Recommendations

Your LinkedIn Summary should clearly explain your value proposition to someone reading your profile as part of your personal brand. That part is fairly straightforward.

But no matter how well-written, the statements you make about yourself may be subject to a certain amount of skepticism. This is why Recommendations are so powerful. A strong one supports your personal brand by extolling your skills and accomplishments. A chorus of them doesn’t just support: it burnishes.

Who to Ask for Recommendations

As the purpose is to enhance your brand, it logically follows that you want Recommendations that are powerful, weighty, and authoritative.

So here is how to receive them:

  • Be connected with a current or former manager
  • Compose a request to him or her, including a few accomplishments of which you are most proud, as well as a graceful way to say no.
  • Hit send.

As mentioned earlier, a Recommendation can only be given for a position on your profile.

The bulk of the hard work is in the second bullet.

The simple truth is that writing a Recommendation can be difficult and time-consuming. If you have ever had to do performance reviews, you already know this—but now, there’s no HR representative politely reminding you to do it.

Make no mistake: what you are requesting is an imposition. Therefore, making it easy for the recipient of your request is in your own interests. You may be tempted to simply say “I’m sure whatever you want to say will be fine.” Resist that urge because the truth is, while you may feel you’re making it easier, all you’re doing is making it harder.

What you want to do is provide some broad parameters or guidelines within which to operate. You may be familiar with the expression “analysis paralysis”. By not providing those boundaries, this is exactly the sensation you may inspire.

So for your own good, and as a matter of just plain courtesy, provide some.

LinkedIn Recommendation Request Example

Dear Margaret:

I hope you’ve been doing well! It was great running into you again - it brought to mind the fun and crazy times when we worked together, like those all-nighters we pulled to make sure those projections were as accurate as possible.

I’m in the process of updating my LinkedIn profile, and it would feel incomplete without a Recommendation from you. When we worked together, I felt I really demonstrated my value and skills, especially with the 2009 vendor review in which I was able to shave half a million off our year on year expenses by finding alternatives and influencing skills.

Because of a new direction I hope to take professionally, I’d like to emphasize my influencing skills. If you could speak to that accomplishment, it would be especially helpful to me.

If you aren’t comfortable making such a statement - obviously it’s been a little while since we worked together - I certainly would understand that.

Either way, have a great day!

Obviously, the accomplishment will be your own, as will the pretext for the request, but the rest is fairly straightforward.

And naturally, you should omit the exit clause if you have already discussed a Recommendation with the recipient.

The When of Recommendations

Obviously, you will want to request them from your former managers or others with whom you have worked closely. However, please note that people who view your profile (1st and 2nd degree connections) can see the Recommendations you have received as well as those you have given. For this reason, I advocate writing unsolicited Recommendations for those with whom you have had excellent professional results.

After all, it’s hard not to draw conclusions about someone who only receives Recommendations but never gives them, isn’t it?

In Closing

A lot of networking is about putting your best foot forward. As a tool for networking, LinkedIn is a marvelous vehicle for so doing. And as shown above, Recommendations are a critical part of it.

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