Throughout my career as a headhunter, I often ask and am asked to write LinkedIn recommendations for clients, candidates, and companies I’ve interacted with in the past. Some rec requests I receive are great, some so-so, and some downright ineffective.
Based on my experiences, here’s how to get a LinkedIn (LI) Recommendation the RIGHT way:
#1. Use ANY mode of communication OTHER THAN LinkedIn to initially ask for your LI recommendation. This sounds counterintuitive; isn’t it just easier to use the LI system to send a rec request?! You’d be right. However, you may come off as lazy or spammy. Furthermore, you may make your intended audience feel commoditized because you chose to use a relatively at-arms-length platform to contact someone who supposedly has a close (or somewhat warm) relationship with you!
I’ve made this mistake and saw first-hand how dismal the response rate is! Blasting out copy-and-paste recommendation requests through LinkedIn is impersonal, ineffective, and may even offend people who thought their relationship with you was beyond the professional, distant, superficial, and sometimes business-only interactions on LinkedIn.
Instead, the best way to ASK for a recommendation is actually IN PERSON or through the PHONE.
If you don’t have time (or want) to catch up in that way, at least shoot a text, Facebook Message OR an email. Something as simple as a call can make someone feel special. What you’re telling your contact is that your relationship exists BEYONDLinkedIn. LinkedIn just happens to be the platform you’d like to host their opinion of you on.
#2. In your initial reach out to your reference, focus on SETTING THE STAGE EFFECTIVELY. Your reference may be turned off by a selfish note like this:
Even though this note is written in a friendly manner, it is OVERWHELMINGLY selfish and unfeeling. Where’s the deep appreciation for their time and effort? Where’s the caring into their life situation? Instead, try to include personal touches, well wishes, and questions about their personal life. You could also include a link or something that reminded you of them. Unless Mary is your best friend, this note may not work so well!
Dandan Global recommends to use a format like this instead:
#3. Give your reference an “out” should they choose NOT to write you a recommendation for WHATEVER reason. Reasons such as regulatory control, company policies, and personal choice may dissuade your reference from writing you a rec. In the above example, there is a clear “out” stated which relaxes the reader from feeling obligated or guilty should they not want to help.
DG TIP: Don’t take it personally if your reference refuses to write you a LI rec! There’s nothing wrong with someone who refuses to help you. Again, you’re asking for a favor, NOT a right. They may be busy, stressed, or simply forgotten about your request. Make sure you have numbers on your side with backup references should one fall through.
In addition, always do a great job and keep in touch with people you’d like to approach later as references. Don’t wait until the last minute to start building those relationships!
To listen to the rest of this article, tune into the Daily DANDAN Podcast Ep 43 for the FULL overview of what to do when you want the best recommendations!
Go to Dandan Global to download the accompanying Recommendation Guide!