One of the best things about LinkedIn is the Recommendations feature, which gives you the opportunity to say good things about others, and allows them to do the same for you. In today’s employment environment, where employers do their initial “shopping” on the web, “recommendations available upon request” is no longer good enough. Recommendations available anytime, from anywhere, is much, much better.
All of this begs the question, “how do you get recommendations on LinkedIn?” There are no shortcuts, but there are three things you can do to make it more likely that you’ll be recommended:
1. Do good work. This seems self-explanatory, but it should never be forgotten. If you’re good at what you do, recommendations will be a lot easier to come by. If you’re not, you should spend your time getting better at your job, or finding a new career. In any case, remember that LinkedIn–or any social media site, for that matter–isn’t a panacea. It merely amplifies the conversation. If you’re good at what you do, it will allow more people to share positive opinions about you. And if you’re not…well, bad news travels just as quickly as good news.
2. Ask for them–and remember that timing is everything. Your contacts have good intentions, but they’re also busy. You may very well be deserving of a recommendation, but it’s rare that you’ll get one unsolicited. Therefore, you may have to ask for one. It’s important to do so only when you really deserve one–from those for whom you’ve done outstanding work, that is. Also, remember that timing is everything. Ask for a recommendation after you go above and beyond the call of duty for a customer, client or co-worker. If they’re waiting on you for a project, or it’s an especially busy time for them, it’s better to wait.
3. Give them–but avoid the quid pro quo. Want to be known as someone who comes highly recommended on LinkedIn? You also may need to be known as someone who recommends others on LinkedIn. This is somewhat a matter of reciprocity: others will be more likely to speak well of you if it appears like you’ll return the favor someday. It’s also good to make recommendations, however, because of what it says about you as a professional. As Chris Brogan says, “The service you perform by recommending others you’ve done work with goes well in both directions. It says something about that person, and it says something about you for taking the time to participate and recommend.” Regardless of why you recommend others, however, it’s important to avoid the appearance of a quid pro quo. A recommendation that stands alone in your network activity feed looks much more credible than one that comes immediately before or after a reciprocal recommendation. The latter looks like a “you scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours” transaction. It simply doesn’t carry the same weight. If someone recommends you and you believe he or she deserving of the same, wait–and say that you’ll return the favor in the future, at a time when it will be most beneficial to him or her.
One last word about recommendations: others will make judgments about you based on whom you endorse–and who endorses you. Be judicious, then, in asking for, and giving, recommendations. Better to be connected to a few people who are well respected than to have hundreds of connections of questionable value.