The art of giving (and getting) good LinkedIn recommendations
By Uri Allen, CPRW
Can I share something with you? Now before I tell you what it is, I must warn you that it may sound odd and maybe a little nerdy (in only the very special way an employment specialist can sound nerdy) but I honestly and truly love a good, well written LinkedIn recommendation. LinkedIn recommendations, when composed properly, can give fellow networking professionals and perhaps someone’s next boss some great and fabulous information about the user for whom they are written. Shorter than a letter from your favorite college professor but longer than a tweet, LinkedIn recommendations can provide insight into someone’s work ethic, career achievements and professional passions and really elevate the LinkedIn profile to the next level. Recommendations can take flat, run of the mill work history and add human, real life dimension to it.
So you might be thinking to yourself (after reading my enthusiastically written intro about LinkedIn recommendations, of course) that you really want to start getting some LinkedIn love on your profile but you just don’t know where to start. Well, fear not because with the following 3 rules for LinkedIn recommendations, you will be getting those professional profile high-fives before you know it.
The first rule of LinkedIn recommendations is you don’t…wait, wrong rules. The first rule of LinkedIn recommendations is you give what you get. Yay reciprocity! Generally, people are more inclined to leave a recommendation for you if you have started the ball rolling by leaving one for them so don’t be shy. When I began building my LinkedIn profile, I selected a few contacts that I respected and left them a recommendation on their page. Sure enough, a few days later I had some great recommendations to add to my profile from professionals that I held in high regard. I made sure to put thought and effort into crafting a great recommendation because that was what I wanted them to do when they wrote mine. And it worked! Now, I will warn you that not everyone plays nice, so you might give a glowing review of someone and receive no response. It happens and it’s a bummer when it does, but never let that discourage you. Continue to give those great recommendations and watch yours grow. So remember, rule #1 is reciprocity.
The second rule of giving a great LinkedIn recommendation is making sure that your recommendation has substance. While it’s really nice to say someone was a great co-worker, that’s not necessarily helpful information. What would be more helpful is describing what made them a great co-worker. Using descriptive sentences, mentioning personal attributes and traits and giving specific examples are all the building blocks of recommendation substance. Talk about specific projects you may have worked on together, in what capacity you worked with the person, what their impact was on the company or organization…whatever your recommendation talking points, make sure they have substance. There you have it, rule #2 is substance!
The final rule of writing an awesome LinkedIn recommendation is to make sure it is error free. Just like a résumé or networking profile, LinkedIn recommendations are a reflection of the person they are written for. Now, you might be thinking to yourself…well I didn’t write the recommendation for myself…why would my image be tarnished if I’ve posted a recommendation on my profile that has spelling errors or typos? To answer that question I will pose another question back at you. Have you ever heard the saying you reflect the company you keep or guilt by association? For those reasons, I would never allow a recommendation to be visible on my page if it was riddled with errors, typos and mistakes even if it was the most amazing recommendation in the known universe. Why? Because I want viewers of my profile to see me as a professional who associates with other professionals. A true professional always strives to have a polished image and in type that translates to spell checked, grammar checked and error free. On the flip side, when you are writing a recommendation, taking the time to proofread and spell/grammar check a recommendation lets your contact know that you value and respect them enough to take the time to make sure it’s perfect. You can bet that if you give a well-written, polished and professional recommendation people reciprocate with the same. Rule #3 is error-free.
While these aren’t hard and fast rules, they are a great guideline to get you going into the world of LinkedIn love. Giving recommendations helps to strengthen networking connections, shows that you can give genuine and professional feedback and it just plain feels good to give kudos to those who deserve them. So get out there and give those virtual high-fives to those in your network that you admire and respect and watch the love come rolling back on to your profile!