This week I have been privy to a wonderful discussion in a LinkedIn Group (Paul Castain’s ‘Sales Playbook’) that is discussing the use & abuse of ‘Recommendations’. Have you ever gotten “Can you recommend me?”, message on LinkedIn from someone that you never worked or otherwise engaged with? Let it be known that it is a great platform for professional interactions & connections. We get to know each other’s backgrounds, specialties and more. However, it has ground rules that need to be observed for success.
Enter the ‘Recommendation’. If I sense that someone is casting a wide net – trying to socially elevate themselves, it’s a turn off. It’s like a compulsive collector that cannot help themselves. To them, I’m just a tool, a set of stars, to set upon an e-shelf. Sometimes the pressure gets so bad that it makes me not want to be ‘friends’ anymore. It becomes one-sided and weird. Seriously weird.
Know that according to LinkedIn’s own data,http://www.linkedin.com/references?mrs=, a person with recommendations is three times more likely to be considered for a project. That’s powerful motivation in a stressful time. I understand the desperation, but question the method. I think you will be better served by thinking your requests through and considering the information below.
On LinkedIn recommendations, a requestor can send out 200 requests at a time. Yeah – that’s what I said too. Where’s the personal plea in that? If you want me to recommend you, here is my criteria:
- We have actually done some sort of transaction together
- You did an AMAZING JOB
- You are asking ME because of our unique relationship and you value my feedback and opinion
- You received a thank you card or email from me and you’re asking me if I will take a moment to copy & paste that same glowing language in a recommendation for you.
Remember that mud thrown is still all over your hands, and not very exact or effective. With today’s wonderful environment of targeted marketing and easy accessibility, it may be tempting to cast a wide net for people to ‘recommend’ you. I would encourage you to do this with caution online: If you ask for a recommendation you should:
- Write a personal message to me with the request
- Ask me to recommend you based on specifics (help ME help YOU)
- Tell me how much you appreciate my time & opinion.
Be prepared that some people will ignore your request. This is normal and it’s just life. Let it live in LinkedIn and don’t bring any uneasiness into the relationship by calling the other person out over an unanswered request. Let it serve as a lesson to pick up the phone and perhaps ask for their permission before you elicit the recommendation in the first place.
Lastly, there is nothing more wonderful to see than an unsolicited recommendation for your work. It is a joy & an indescribable kindness to receive the accolades of your co-workers, clients and friends. Let life surprise you and don’t be so anxious. Let them come. If you tend to your sphere and if you are a generous and wonderful resource and practicioner, then the gratitude will flow back into your arms and eventually onto your LinkedIn profile.