LinkedIn recommendations: Setting the bar high–for yourself and others

Moncton 2010 IAAF World Jr Championships - Day 5 by Stephen Downes on Flickr

Part 5 of 6

One thing that makes LinkedIn recommendations so special is that they’re rare. It’s not every day that someone takes the time to compliment your work. That’s why it’s crucial to set the bar high when requesting and giving recommendations. In seeking to be recognized for your best efforts and only rewarding those in your network who consistently stand out from the crowd, you’ll make sure the recommendations in your network continue to have meaning.

With that mind, here are a few pointers for ensuring that you set a high standard when using LinkedIn recommendations:

  • Ask for them only when you truly deserve them. It’s tempting to ask for recommendations from everyone you’ve ever worked with. It’s better, though, to take a less-is-more approach. Who is likely to give you a glowing review? Who have you helped in a substantial way, or gone to great lengths to assist? By focusing on those relationships, you’ll ensure that the quality of the recommendations you’ve received outweighs the value you’d receive from a higher quantity of more tepid recommendations.
  • Ignore recommendation requests when appropriate. This may sound obvious, but it’s easy to feel pressured into giving a recommendations every time they’re requested. Let’s be honest: you may occasionally have to write one that’s not entirely worthy (after all, it’s not worth risking your relationship with good customers by stubbornly refusing to honor their requests unless doing so would reflect poorly on you). However, trust your instincts when you can, and don’t give recommendations unless they’re truly deserved. It may just be that the person making the request hasn’t done enough work with you to warrant a recommendation. If that’s the case, they’ll be patient if they’re confident in their skills. If not, they may not be worthy of a recommendation from you after all.
  • Reward those who truly deserve it. If you’re going to be diligent in setting the bar high, make sure you’re equally as diligent in rewarding every one of your most deserving contacts. Keep a running list of those you believe do stand out work, and make a practice of paying it forward by writing a recommendation for them every time someone recommends you. Don’t leave someone out who truly deserves the recognition.
  • Have a thick skin. If you set the bar high for others, you need to accept that others will set the bar high for you. You can’t expect, then, that every recommendation request you make will be granted. Get over it and focus on doing work worthy of being recognized.

As mentioned yesterday, what you say about others can make as much of an impact on your connections as what others say about you. Set the bar high, then, and everyone will come out on top.

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