Recommendations reveal a lot about the person giving and receiving them. Never has this been more evident than on LinkedIn where they cannot be faked. This makes people more circumspect about what they are saying in public. This post is about giving and receiving recommendations, why content is all important plus a top tip that should help you determine what recommendations will work for you.
I receive requests for recommendations regularly from people that I know and like. I also receive incoming recommendations that I do not place on my profile because they are not from people that have experienced what I do. Surely the more recommendations the better, right? Wrong!
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Why are LinkedIn recommendations given?
There are quite a few people providing LinkedIn training these days and this might be why the number of incoming recommendations I receive is on the increase. Perhaps it’s because the “trainers” sometimes tell people that they should provide as many as possible because the recipients are (supposedly) compelled to provide one in return? This may be why they lack depth. John says Petra is a nice lady and Petra returns the compliment. Big deal, I’m not impressed by those. In fact, they have the opposite affect.
Another practice is to recommend someone because they have an extensive network. Perhaps this does mean more people will see the name of both parties. Initially, these sound like reasonable ideas yet if the content of the recommendations is weak it’s similar to having a website which looks nice yet doesn’t make it clear what a company actually does for it’s clients.
Requesting a LinkedIn recommendation
Another practice is to request a recommendation from someone with a large network. The theory behind this is that lots of people will be impressed that you have been recommended by someone of substance. Why is it a bad idea? Think about two things. First, the person receiving the request is probably busy and you are eating into their precious time if they have to think about what to write about you. Second, most people want to be polite and mention how nice you are. After that, what else can they say about you?
I usually know and like the people that ask me to write a recommendation and am happy to di it. The trouble is I wouldn’t consider using the service of someone who had 100 recommendations saying they were a nice person. So what do I write? Most people are nice so that’s not a defining quality. On the other hand I would actively seek out someone with a testimonial outlining a benefit that I didn’t have. Nice is a bonus.
Who should give a recommendation?
Providing recommendations takes time so it would be better to let them know you are going to make a request. If I don’t receive such a call I’m quite happy to write how nice they are but they may feel let down if they expected a eulogy. I often recommend that they ask their most satisfied client for a recommendation as they are best placed to say exactly what they got.
I don’t want a recommendation that simply says I am “nice to work with”. I know lots of nice people yet I morph into a client when what they do provides me with something I want and don’t already have. I actually politely decline incoming recommendations that don’t have any detail about the benefit of the service I provide. Some people think this is mad, yet they take up space that could have recommendations which pack a real punch and tell people what they’re missing.
Wrap up: Ask yourself what sort of recommendation you want and provide one of similar quality to someone who has helped you.
Top Tip: My favourite form of recommendation is the one I give to someone who has really helped me. I don’t tell them it’s on the way. It’s a nice surprise.
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