LinkedIn recommendations do impress prospective employers and other important career contacts, much more than you may realize. It’s also to your benefit to give them. Here’s how to make the best use of this crucial LinkedIn feature.
Giving a recommendation is a great way to build relationship with a first-degree LinkedIn connection whose work you sincerely admire. It can also lead to receiving a recommendation in return, although reciprocity is not required and should not necessarily be expected.
Be aware that your recommendations of others can be read in your profile and, unless you choose otherwise in your Settings, they will appear in your Activity Broadcast (your automatic contributions to the LinkedIn Updates emails received by members). Only give recommendations that are accurate and deserved.
To get recommendations, ask for them! Your contacts may think very highly of your work, but may not be in the habit of giving recommendations. It may never have occurred to them.
The most important recommendations are generally from your direct supervisors and those above them. Internal and external customers are also very important. Once you have recommendations from these groups, recommendations from peers and direct reports will round out the impression.
To Give a Recommendation:
- Go to the person’s profile.
- Click the “More” button to the right of their photo.
- Select Recommend and follow the step-by-step process.
To Request a Recommendation for Yourself:
- Consider contacting the person outside of LinkedIn first – via phone, email, etc. – to mention that you’ll be requesting a LinkedIn recommendation. This can give your request a more personalized feel and may increase the likelihood of a good response.
- In LinkedIn, go to the your contact’s profile, click the “More” button to the right of their profile photo, and select “Request a recommendation.”
- Select the appropriate relationship and position from the drop-down menus.
- Write a personalized message.
- Be gracious; you are asking for a favor. At the same time, it may be a good idea to suggest specific aspects of your work you would like the person to comment on, or provide insights on why you are requesting a recommendation at this time.
- Pasting in something you have drafted “as a starting point” can be a big help for busy contacts, and increases your chances of getting the recommendation.
- Click Send.
Be patient. Recommendation requests don’t seem as urgent as other emails, so it may be several weeks before you get a response; or the recipient may not respond at all.
If you receive a recommendation you’re hesitant to use, you can either choose not to make it visible (e.g., if it consists of “faint praise”), or send it back to the person suggesting a small revision (“Can you mention the XYZ project?”) or with spelling errors corrected (“I just fixed a little typo – can you copy and paste this in?”). In the latter case, realize that you’re doing your contact a favor by helping them look good.
If you do receive a recommendation – even if you never post it – be appreciative! A handwritten thank-you note or card is a nice touch.
For an example of a LinkedIn profile with recommendations, here’s mine.
This post was originally published in November 2013 as “LinkedIn Recommendations: Giving and Receiving” and has been updated.