And I’m back. It was a rather eventful week off for me here on the east coast, with a mild earthquake as I was staining my deck, and then having to evacuate because of Hurricane Irene over the weekend.  My thoughts go out to everyone still dealing with flooding, power outages and damage – I was fortunate that my house near the bay never lost power (the yard floods on a good day, so a sump pump is a necessity) and that the damage wasn’t at all severe.  

Today, we’re back to talking LinkedIn, and I’d like to focus on recommendations.  Before we get into the how, let’s talk about about the why. 

 

LinkedIn tells us that "users with recommendations are three times as likely to get inquiries through LinkedIn searches."  

Plus, let’s be honest – what do we do these days when any of us are looking to hire someone? We ask a friend to recommend someone.  If no one knows anyone, we look up recommendations online and see if anyone has reviewed that person’s work.  Recommendations on LinkedIn are no different – they’re reviews of your work, and give people more confidence in hiring you if you’re not someone they know personally. 

LinkedIn asks, why get recommended? 

  • It helps you hire and get hired
  • It helps you find customers and partners
  • It builds your brand and reputation
  • It makes your network more valuable

So who should you have recommend you then? 

  • Former managers
  • Colleagues and co-workers
  • Customers and clients
  • Business partners

LinkedIn also answers the question of where recommendations can be found – "when you recommend a colleague, business partner, or professional service provider, your comment is listed in your profile under the Recommendations tab. Recommendations you receive are listed under ‘Recommendations For’ at the bottom of the ‘Experience’ section." 

So let’s jump into how you recommend and ask for recommendations and I’ll throw in some best practices along the way. 

From your home page, mouse over "Profile" in the top menu. Here, you’ll see a link for "Recommendations." Click on this: 

That will take you to the recommendations page: 

At the very top, you can see that there are three tabs – we’re on "Received Recommendations," but there is also "Sent Recommendations" and "Request Recommendations." We’ll examine those in more depth in a bit. 

A best practice here is often to recommend others before asking them to recommend you.  I think it depends on you relationship with the person.  When asking for a recommendation, make sure you know them well and that you know they’ll be comfortable in recommending you in a professional capacity. 

I admit to asking for recommendations without recommending the person first, so feel free to do what you’re comfortable with.

On this tab, you can see a list of the positions that you’ve held and the education experience you have – you can request a recommendation for each of these.  Students – this can be particularly useful for you if your work experience isn’t related to the field that you want to go into, but your educational experience is.

For the rest of us, it makes the most sense to focus on the professional experience that we’ve had, and in particular, whatever will have the most impact among the audience you’re looking to reach.  If you’re hoping that your LinkedIn profile will serve as reinforcement to any potential clients looking you up on the internet, you’ll want current clients to be reviewing your work.  If you’re looking to broaden your practice in a certain industry, make sure that you’re requesting recommendations from clients in that industry.  

If there’s a position or educational experience that you’d like to add to your profile so that someone can recommend your work for that position, you can do so here as well.  But let’s treat this as though we have everything in here that we want, and we’re going to ask for a recommendation.  Under each job title and educational experience, it will tell you how many recommendations you have and in brackets is a link that says "Ask to be endorsed."

Click that for any position that you want to request a recommendation for. 

It’s a very easy three-step process:

Since we clicked the link directly from the position we want to be recommended for, the first step is already done – that’s choosing what you want to be recommended for.  This will indicate to the person you’re requesting the information from the position you were in when you worked with them and the period of time they should be endorsing you for.

The second part is deciding who you’ll ask to recommend you.  As you can see from the third step, you can customize your message, so I’m going to *highly* recommend that you ask only one person at a time.  This shouldn’t be a blanket request to everyone on your contacts list, but a well thought out request.  If you can group people, you’ll notice that LinkedIn says that it sends this as an individual message to each person, so that’s fine, but you may want to add a personal message for each person to make them more likely to endorse you.

Since I’m my only connection on this profile, I’ll ask myself for a recommendation.  The third part of this allows you to customize the subject line and message. I normally leave the subject line as it is, but I do customize the message body.  Also note that LinkedIn is going to fill in the person’s name, with a "Dear {name}" so you don’t have to include that – it will appear twice if you do.

This is an excellent opportunity to tell the person that you want to endorse you the type of recommendation you’re looking for – obviously, you can’t tell them how to write it, but if you’re looking to lean towards a certain goal, you can mention this to them here.  Perhaps you would add something like:

I’m working on my LinkedIn profile, and I’d really appreciate a recommendation from you. It’s like a letter of recommendation, only it doesn’t need to be longer than a paragraph. 

If you can’t endorse me, I completely understand, but if you can, I would greatly appreciate it."

It can be more specific than this of course, but this is what I recently sent out in my requests. Once we have our message crafted, hit send to send the request out. At this point, you’ll be taken back to your "Received Recommendations" tab, and you’ll see that while you still have no recommendations, there is one pending request.

You now have more options besides asking to be endorsed. You can also manage the recommendations. Let’s click on that. That will take you to a page with your pending and actual recommendations (if you have any).  We’ll look at my existing profile to see what this looks like when you have recommendations: 

 

 At the top of the page will be the recommendations you have received.  For each one, you have the choice to check or uncheck the "Show" box – this decides whether or not you want this recommendation to be visible on your profile. 

Underneath each recommendation is a link to request  a new or revised recommendation from that person.  If you have done subsequent work with them, or more recent work with them, you may want to consider this. This will take you to a similar page to the original request, but will include the details of their original recommendation in the body of the email.  The suggested text that they include is rather curt, so I’d suggest rewriting this as appropriate if you are asking for someone to revise their recommendation. 

After the received recommendations, you’ll see a list of pending recommendation requests:

Here, you can see who you’ve requested recommendations of, and when you requested them.  If you’d like to resend the request with a little nudge, you can click "Resend." This again opens up the request page that we saw earlier.  Keep in mind that if someone hasn’t recommended you in a few months, they may not feel comfortable doing so, so it will depend on your relationship with them as to whether you want to resend your request. 

Now let’s continue with my request for a recommendation.  When you request a recommendation, your contact will get an email and it will come into their LinkedIn inbox like this: 

You will get these from time to time, and you can either click the button to "Write Recommendation," if you feel comfortable recommending the person, or you can reply to the email, forward, archive, delete, or report as spam.

Here’s another best practice – don’t recommend someone if you don’t know them well. Any recommendations you make don’t just show up on the other person’s profile – they’re on yours as well. You are endorsing them with your words, so give careful thought to anyone you decide to recommend.

You can recommend someone without them requesting it, but here we’ll start with responding to a request for a recommendation.  Click the "Write Recommendation" button and it will take you to a page where you can select the type of recommendation.  It’s generally agreed that LinkedIn hasn’t done a very good job here, and it’s often a little confusing about how to respond here. 

If you’ve worked with the person at the same company, it’s fairly straightforward – you click "Colleague." If you are a client of the person that you’re recommending, choose "Service Provider." And if you have worked with the person, but not as a client or colleague, choose "Business Partner."  There are many other categories you may want to choose, but for now, this is what LinkedIn offers, so just choose the one that comes closest to your relationship with the person you’ll be endorsing.

Since it’s a recommendation I’m writing for myself, I’ll choose colleague for the sake of the tutorial. Then click "Continue." Here is where we’ll create our recommendation: 

From the first two drop down boxes, we’re going to choose the basis of the recommendation and our title at the time we were working with the person we’re recommending.

My options for the basis of the recommendation are: 

  • You managed Lindsay directly
  • You reported directly to Lindsay
  • You were senior to Lindsay, but did not manage directly
  • Lindsay was senior to you, but you did not report directly
  • You worked with Lindsay in the same group
  • You worked with LIndsay in different groups

Again, you may not find exactly what you’d like here, but choose the one that best fits. 

Then, you’ll choose your title at the time you worked with the person you’re recommending. This list will be those titles that you have included in your profile. 

Next, you will write a brief recommendation for the person. I find it helpful to look at other recommendations the person may have gotten, or recommendations that others have received or given to get an idea of what I want to say about the person. 

Underneath the text box where you can write your recommendation, you’ll see that a message will be sent with it.  You can view or edit this if you’d like.  Otherwise, click "Send" to send the recommendation.  Note that under the send button it says "You can edit or remove the recommendations you create at any time." 

So what does the person on the other end (or you) see when a recommendation is received? First, you’ll get an email that the person has recommended you, and it invites you to view and approve the recommendation.  You can also do this through your LinkedIn page by clicking on recommendations. A red box will appear at the top encouraging you to add the recommendation to your profile: 

To do that, we’ll click "View." This takes you to your inbox where the recommendation has come in, and shows you the details.  You can decide to show the recommendation on your profile or hide it, and click "Accept Recommendation," or you can request a replacement as we talked about earlier. 

I’m going to accept it and show it on my profile: 

When you click accept, you’ll get this page:

Here, you’re invited to recommend the person who endorsed you.  if you’d like to do that from here, click one of the options that they give you and continue as we did before.

Let’s say we want to recommend someone who hasn’t requested it.  There are a couple of ways to do this. From the "Received Recommendations" tab, you’ll see that the bottom of the page offers you the chance to recommend someone: 

You can begin by entering a name (first and last, plus email) or you can choose someone from your LinkedIn connections list by clicking the link.  Then, choose how you would recommend this person, as a colleague, service provider, business partners or student and click continue to be taken to the recommendation creation page that we saw earlier.

The other way to make a recommendation is to click on the "Sent Recommendations" tab. 

 

Here, you would manage recommendations that you’ve already sent – we haven’t sent any yet, but i’ll show you how that looks in a moment. Or you can make a recommendation in exactly the same way we just described.

Let’s say you have made recommendations – how would this page appear? 

As you can see, you can edit each individual recommendation if you’d like by clicking the "Edit" link next to each recommendation.  You can also make bulk changes as to who can see each recommendation – the choices here are everyone, your connections, or no one.  I’m going to change the first one to "No one" since it’s for testing purposes.  Keep in mind that your recommendation will still appear on that person’s page, even if you choose no one.  At the bottom of the recommendations, you can also set all of the profile visibility to everyone, just connections, or no one.  This is a personal choice, so go with what works best for you.

It may be beneficial for you to be seen as recommending someone – this shows your contacts that you’ve worked with them – and as I mentioned earlier, we should all be recommending the right people, and therefore, not afraid to show these recommendations on our profiles.

If you make any changes to the visibility of recommendations, don’t forget to click "Save changes" to save them.

You can also see here when you made each recommendation, and you’ll note that along the top, you can filter the recommendations you’ve made by colleagues, service providers, business partners and students. 

The final piece of this is the third tab – "Request Recommendations." This is basically the same as requesting recommendations from the first tab, but here, you will need to choose from a drop down menu which of your positions or educational experience you want recommended. From this page, you can also add a job position or school if you notice that the one you want endorsed hasn’t been added to your profile yet. 

Now you’re ready to go out there and start recommending people and asking for recommendations! 

Tomorrow, we’ll delve into some additional features of LinkedIn that might be useful to you, and after the holiday weekend, we’ll be starting on Twitter!