LinkedIn Recommendations are testimonials from other users that attest to your professional abilities. They tell others that you're a person worth knowing. On LinkedIn, reputation means everything and recommendations contribute in a big way. Everyone on LinkedIn is looking for quality employees, employers, freelancers, and clients, and recommendations are how you set yourself apart from the crowd.
Why You Need Recommendations
Nowadays, Recommendations have become a 'scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' situation. Many people feel that they've become virtually meaningless. Even though this may be so, you still need to have them because a profile with none looks strange.
To give you an idea of how important they are, some major employers say they wouldn't consider any applicant with less than ten recommendations. It's become part of the process of filtering out potential employees. They feel that these are the equivalent of references and if you won't bother to get them, you're not serious about your job search.
On LinkedIn, self-promotion is looked down upon. Recommendations give you a chance to let a third party tell everybody how valuable you are instead of doing it for yourself. This is the principle of 'social proof' – if enough people swear by you, you must do an excellent job. However, this only goes for credible recommendations and there are fake ones everywhere.
Your recommendations differentiate you from others and help to brand you. Some people get jobs solely on the strength of what their connections say about them.
How to Get Recommendations
If you wait around for people to write you a recommendation out of the goodness of their hearts, you'll be waiting a while. You really have to go out and ask, and there's nothing wrong with this. It's fairly common practice.
Only ask for recommendations from people you really know and have actually worked with. Otherwise, you're spamming people. If possible, seek recommendations from people that are movers, shakers, and 'top influencers.' Look for people that are especially active on LinkedIn where your recommendation will really mean something. Avoid people who give recommendations to all of their connections because these won't hold as much water.
The Personal Touch
When you ask for a recommendation, it's best to do it by phone and not by email. Make it as real and personal as possible. If phone isn't an option, email is fine, but make it a personalized message. Never send out a template.
The best time to ask for a recommendation is right after you've completed work for someone. This is when your abilities are fresh in their mind and their testimonial will reflect that. You can also ask for one after you've done them a favor or after you've recommended them.
Your recommendation should be short and concise. It should focus on results and value added. Try to avoid ones that say nothing but your most general characteristics. They should mention specific things you did for them and how you helped them.
Real Recommendations Are Worth a Whole Lot More
Like all social media sites, your LinkedIn profile has to be 'real.' With all the fake profiles out there, it's important that yours has an authentic touch. Your recommendations are the same. Think about this when choosing people to ask. Since it's common for LinkedIn users to have a long list of fairly generic recommendations, if yours is full of recommendations that are real and detailed, they'll be much more impressive.
Would you like to know more about using LinkedIn to prospect and network to find new business? Check out LinkedIn 101 for the most up-to-date information.