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We all prefer to work with people and businesses recommended to us, and leading companies have no doubt about the power of recommendations to drive sales.
The social media platform of choice for leaders, LinkedIn, has a specific section to give and receive recommendations.
Although LinkedIn recommendations can be an effective way of promoting and getting promoted by the people you work with, and can build your company’s reputation, there are some unspoken rules associated with this new marketing tool, and ways to improve their effectiveness.
What’s a recommendation?
People who are happy with your work write a brief description of their professional experience with you on your LinkedIn profile.
The recommendation is a way for a third party to obtain a better perspective of the recommended person.
Who and how to ask for recommendations
You can request a recommendation from your first-degree connections. Don’t go overboard asking everyone for one – and only ask people you have worked with.
You only want meaningful, genuine recommendations on your profile. People are suspicious of users with too many recommendations on their LinkedIn page!
You also want recommendations from people with the most credibility, preferably in senior positions, or someone known in your industry who has a strong, positive reputation.
When asking for a LinkedIn recommendation, customise the message with specifics on how you want your contact to recommend you. In fact, you could make it easy and write it for them – but be sure to let them know they can adjust it as they want.
Giving a recommendation
When you are providing, your goal is to educate others about the person. Keep this in mind. You don’t want to write a generic recommendation such as “Sally is a consummate professional and I highly recommend her to others” as it tells people nothing about how Sally works or her strengths.
Recommendations should be genuine, specific, and descriptive. They should also support a person’s professional brand. As a minimum it’s important to cover what they do and what makes them different or the best.
Keep your recommendations between 60-100 words. If possible, follow the rule of threes, such as “John is creative, a strong communicator and a positive leader”. Listing qualities in threes makes it easier for people to remember, and it will have much more impact.
If you don’t want to recommend someone who has asked, it’s OK to decline. No one wants a half-hearted recommendation.
Should you recommend people who recommend you?
Surprisingly, the answer is no. It just looks contrived and each recommendation undermines the other.
However, you should also take the time to recommend people you’ve had good experiences with. What goes around comes around.
LinkedIn recommendations aren’t automatically posted to your profile; you need to approve them first.
When you receive a recommendation, read it carefully, make sure it reads well, says what you want it to say and there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
You can also decline recommendations. If you receive one that is too generic, or from someone you haven’t worked with, don’t accept it. With LinkedIn recommendations, it is quality over quantity.
Product recommendations on company pages
As well as personal recommendations, users can also recommend a company’s products or services on a company page.
If you have a company page (and you should!) list all your products and services with an outline of each one.
Company page recommendations give members rich, credible insights into how each product or service is perceived by their fellow professionals.
The same rules apply to product or service recommendation as to personal recommendations.
They should only be written by someone who has actually used that specific product or service; they should be descriptive and, if possible, use hard metrics. For example: “After hiring this company to do the PR for my business, my sales increased by X per cent in a three-month period.”
To request a recommendation of your product or service, click “request recommendations” on the company’s product page, select your contact and write them a personal message.
Use recommendations outside LinkedIn
One more tip on how to make even better use of any recommendation you may receive on LinkedIn: use the same recommendations and post them to your website to increase their reach.