.(Updated October 2017)
Recommendations for your past work are one of the most powerful inclusions to have on your LinkedIn profile. But it’s not enough to do great work and wait for the recommendations and endorsements to flow in. Typically, you are going to need to ask for them. But just making a general request using the LinkedIn recommendation boilerplate copy is not enough. What you ask, and how you ask it, will determine how likely you are to get a reply—and a useful recommendation for your profile.
5 steps to follow when asking for LinkedIn recommendations
Step 1: Decide on one project or role to target
Although it may be tempting to send out dozens of requests, covering every position listed on your LinkedIn profile, resist that temptation! You’ll get better recommendations if you keep focused. Start with the role or project that you are most proud of, and that exemplifies the kind of work you’d like to do more of. Now, break down that role into the core competencies you demonstrated, and your key accomplishments. With this list in hand, you’re ready for the next step.
Step 2: Identify the right people to ask
Browse through your LinkedIn contacts related to that position. Who were the people with whom you worked most closely? Who can provide the most insight into what made you successful in the role? Who can best articulate the business impact of your work? It may be tempting to send out requests just to those more senior to you at the firm, but truly remarkable recommendations come from the people who appreciated your efforts — and no fancy title will make up for a generic, lukewarm recommendation.
Now that you have your list of prospective recommendation writers, ask yourself one last question: is each one of these colleagues someone whom you respect and for whom you would readily provide a recommendation? If not, cross them off the list.
Step 3: Provide a clear picture of the project or competency for which you’d like them to write their recommendation
Although LinkedIn provides some boilerplate copy to ask for recommendations, you’ll receive a much better end result if you provide some context around what competencies and accomplishments you’d like the recommendation to touch on. And let them know why you are asking them specifically for a recommendation. Here’s an example:
Would you be willing to provide a brief LinkedIn recommendation for the work I did for you on the ENGAGE event social media strategy? As a refresher, this strategy resulted in 15 positive media mentions, connecting with three key influencers, and generated over 400 participant social media mentions during the event. As my primary business partner o this project, I would appreciate it if you could share how we worked together in our respective roles to achieve these results.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with working with me.
Step 4: Give feedback on the recommendation they write
OK, your pitch worked and you’ve got your first recommendation! Huzzah! But take a moment to read it over before pushing it live on your profile. First, check to see if there are any spelling or grammar mistakes — your recommendation provider would be mortified to have their name permanently attached to a typo. If you find one, drop them a polite note in a request to revise to alert them to the typo.
Next, is there anything less than accurate, such as an overstatement of your role or accomplishments? Yes, you want a positive recommendation, but if someone oversells you and the impact you made, it may come back to haunt you at a later date — such as when a prospective employer asks to contact that recommendation-giver directly for more context on their recommendation.
And finally, did the recommendation focus on the area you requested? If not, determine the cause. Was your request vague? Did you ask for a recommendation on an area this person did not directly oversee or have enough knowledge about? Or is it possible you could have improved upon the core competency you asked to have recommended? Instead of shooting back a request to revise and a note, if there is a mismatch between the recommendation and what you requested, this would be a good time to pick up the phone or schedule a coffee date with your colleague to ask for some feedback before moving forward.
Step 5: Thank them by providing them with a LinkedIn recommendation
Sending a thank you card is a great gesture of appreciation. But an even better one is providing a sincere LinkedIn recommendation highlighting the key strengths and core competencies you’ve seen your colleague demonstrate. After all, you’ve asked them to take time out of their busy day to recommend you. Giving that same consideration and effort in return is a great way to strengthen your collegial bond. A little reciprocity goes a long way in maintaining relationships with colleagues and former employers.
Do you have some additional tips for soliciting a great LinkedIn recommendation? Or questions about writing them? Let me know in the comments.