I will write you a LinkedIn recommendation explaining to the world how good you are at what you do and in return you can write me one explaining to the world that I am the world’s best LinkedIn Trainer and that your business wouldn’t be as successful as it is if it wasn’t for me!
This way we are both benefitting – a true win/win - right?
(well, not the world’s best bit – the win/win bit!)
In fact this practice couldn’t be more wrong and yet it happens on a regular basis, I am sure you have at least seen it and maybe even been directly involved in it.
The fact is that this type of recommendation will do your professional reputation more harm than good – I call them WRECKOMMENDATIONS!
They generally fall into 4 types;
- A connection sends an unsolicited recommendation to someone they have never met or possibly even spoken to. This is a deliberate tactic designed to encourage the other user to recommend them in return and foolishly they write an equally insincere recommendation back.
- Two peer colleagues recommend each other for mutual benefit.
- A genuine recommendation is made by a connection of yours, LinkedIn encourages you to repay the compliment and because you don’t wish to offend them, you duly oblige. This recommendation is born out of a sense of duty rather than a genuine testimonial.
- Similar to 3 but on this occasion you genuinely wish to recommend the connection - you just hadn’t got around to doing it and their recommendation reminds you to do the same so you follow the process that LinkedIn encourages and recommend them back (see below).
Now let’s be clear about this ALL the above are WRECKOMMENDATIONS!
The worst type is clearly number 1, number 2 is just simply foolish, number 3 is well intentioned but equally foolish and number 4 is the least sinful but can be easily dismissed as being just as fake as the others.
Here are my tips to ensure that your recommendations have real impact;
- Only recommend people that you know AND rate. Never write anything that you don’t believe and can back up with real examples.
- Never be tempted to return a recommendation out of a sense of duty.
- Only accept (or show) and ask for recommendations from connections that fit the profile of the type of user that you are trying to attract. This will depend on what your objectives are – if you are looking for a job, ex bosses are good, if you are looking to find new customers then show recommendations from satisfied customers.
- Never write a recommendation in return for receiving one – whether genuine or not, at least not immediately (despite LinkedIn’s encouragement to do so). If you do all your first tier and their first tier connections will see the following on their home page;
Joe Bloggs has recommended Fred Smith swiftly followed by Fred Smith has recommended Joe Bloggs! (See example above - clearly a good, genuine pair of recommendations but the back to back timing creates doubt as to how genuine they are) When people see this they are likely to dismiss both recommendations as being insincere (no matter how genuine they actually are). If someone recommends you and you genuinely wish to recommend them back then you should send them a message thanking them for their testimonial and explaining that you intend to write them one as well but that (for the above reasons) you will do this in a couple of weeks (don’t forget to make a note in your diary!)
Recommendations can be the most powerful section of your LinkedIn profile. A genuine testimonial from a credible source can have a huge impact. Don’t forget that every time someone recommends you ALL of their 1st tier connections are notified and ALL of yours! Imagine the positive impact this can have.
Unfortunately one bad one can ruin the rest, when I see a recommendation that fits into one of the above 4 categories I automatically assume that all their other recommendations will be the same.
Treat your recommendations with respect and they will pay you dividends.