Gershbein: Are You Living Up to Your LinkedIn Recommendations?

LinkedIn recommendations are the greatest measure we have for gauging the credibility of others online. They are highly specialized pieces of content that can drive the business decision-making process. If you are being vetted as a vendor, enterprise partner, service provider, or employee, you will surely be accessed on LinkedIn and recommendations written about you and your firm will be reviewed. Beyond how you present in the other sections of your LinkedIn profile, your recommendations weave a tapestry of your expertise and capabilities and position you as the logical choice for the order, the collaboration, or the job.

In the digital world, we are what others say we are. In the real world, we get the opportunity to prove them correct.

The perception of the LinkedIn recommendation vehicle varies greatly among LinkedIn users. Some feel that it is a contrived mechanism, that a gloating, over-the-top endorsement artificially inflates the value of a person. I take the writing and receiving of LinkedIn recommendations very seriously. In my world, endorsements from clients, colleagues, and centers of influence carry significant weight in the branded content mix. Moreover, I prefer to take people at their word on LinkedIn and encourage others to be authentic toward me in return.

Success Secret No. 7: Use LinkedIn Recommendations to Market your Credibility

This post will examine the range of the LinkedIn recommendation as a strategic tool in your overall LinkedIn marketing and branding plan. The writing of a LinkedIn recommendation is a three-part process that includes the request, the crafting, and the follow-up. The LinkedIn achiever views each maneuver as a means of deepening an engagement and cementing a relationship.

When requesting a LinkedIn recommendation you should:

♦ Be Cordial and Appreciative of Your Connection’s Time

By its very nature, recommendations on LinkedIn are staged—by the LinkedIn developers themselves—as a reciprocal act. Whereas your 1st degree connections would love nothing more than to sit down, incubate on you for hours, and deliver an unsolicited, well-crafted recommendation for your LinkedIn profile, that rarely happens. People are busy and focused on other things. Hence, requesting a contact to endorse you has become the convention. The approach is delicate and personal. That means lifting that default content in the request field that LinkedIn provides and adding your own. Then, as graciously and as respectfully as you can, acknowledge the person’s busy schedule and explain why having his/her endorsement is valuable to you.

♦ Create a Recommendable Basis

You need to be recommended for something. A proper testimonial should speak to your abilities, qualifications, acumen, character, and integrity. It is perfectly acceptable to give your connection a few talking points as to how you wish to be framed in the recommendation. Without a recommendable basis, you cannot, in good conscience, request a connection to endorse you.

♦ Promise to Reciprocate in Timely Fashion

People you ask to write LinkedIn recommendations will be more inclined to follow through for you if they know that there will be one for them, too. Not a selfish act, but certainly one that separates us from the animals. If the person from whom you’re requesting the endorsement is also deserving of one, then state in your request that, upon receipt, you will be delighted to return the favor.

When writing a quality LinkedIn recommendation for a connection, you should:

♦ Focus on Creating Value for Your Connection

LinkedIn achievers realize that incoming LinkedIn recommendation requests are important touch points that can create great relationship momentum. Rather than view them as drudgery, they take on each one as an experiential writing exercise, never losing sight of the fact that their words can help their subjects advance in the business world.

Write in Orderly Fashion and from a Place of Honesty

Good LinkedIn recommendation writing is sequential and authentic. It tells a story and delivers a payoff. It has a beginning, middle, and an end. Start by outlining the initial interaction with your subject, move on to the recommendable basis, and finish by reinforcing a particular trait or quality that will stick in the mind of the reader (hey, that’s branding!). Drill down deep—cite talents, skills, and character—and explain why this person is perfect for the considered opportunity. Make it believable. Avoid unnecessary or excessive flattery.

♦ Proofread Before Posting

An eloquent LinkedIn recommendation, one showing skillful use of language and grammar, is impacting on both the emotional and visceral levels. A sloppy recommendation, one written in haste, bearing a fistful of typos, fragmented thought or hazy details, creates a problem. Above all else, it shows a lack of respect to the task at-hand. And how does it reflect upon the person who wrote it? LinkedIn achievers use a Word document or notepad to collect and carefully edit their thoughts. They don’t submit the endorsement until they’ve spell-checked it and can stand behind every word. They know that their name gets posted on the LinkedIn profile along with their endorsement.

When following up a LinkedIn recommendation that has been received, you should:

♦ Request a Replacement or Revision If It Is Not Right

If the recommendation you’ve received doesn’t hit the high note, is chock full of errors, or it simply doesn’t recommend you, there’s nothing wrong with gently requesting a second go-around. Isolate those areas that should be emphasized or extracted. Collaborate on this and show patience. Your connection wants to make this right for you. Conversely, if you are asked to revise a recommendation, respond with cordiality (another great touch point here!), and address the changes.

♦ Give Thanks

You’ve just posted a beautiful, sparkling recommendation from a connection on your LinkedIn profile. It’s only natural to bask in the glow of the warm words. LinkedIn achievers take the time to acknowledge the gesture and let a connection know how sincerely appreciative they are for their work. This follow-up piece is, arguably, the most valuable touch point of LinkedIn relationship marketing.

The why’s, how’s, when’s and what’s of recommendation writing are discretionary actions and carry forward their own rules of engagement.

So what’s your take on LinkedIn recommendations?

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