LinkedIn is a great business social network. The crown jewel of its services is the great reputation engine, fueled by LinkedIn recommendations you write for others. As much as your own recommendations matter, it’s just as important that you recommend others. Here are some tips to what makes a great LinkedIn recommendation.
Only Recommend People Whose Work You Can Vouch For
I’ll say this once: if you recommend someone and can’t really vouch for their work, you’re just setting your own reputation up for a blow. Don’t do it. LinkedIn and I disagree in the area that I’ll link to anyone (are you and I LinkedIn? Connect with me and use linkedin @ chrisbrogan . com as my email address). But I’ll never recommend someone whose work I don’t know enough about.
Lead With Strong Language
No, not cussing. Lead with the strongest thing you can say about the person. “Gerry is a clutch player in the world or project management.” When I said that, I wanted people to know that you had a real anchor player in Gerry. Not just “a sufficiently skilled project manager,” but a “clutch player.”
Start with the best possible thing you can say about the person. If you can’t say anything particularly strong, you might reconsider whether you’d recommend them.
Be Brief, But Be Useful
People don’t want to read Moby Dick. They want to know what others say about their prospective new hire, or their potential new customer. Be brief and pack it full of value.
What’s useful? Using Gerry as my example, I’d say about Gerry: “Gerry is a strong communicator, and gets his point across simply. He knows how to pad a schedule, but keep the project tight. Gerry gets disparate teams together to execute with great success.” All of these things, said of a project manager, will improve Gerry’s potential hiring, and will tell his manager what you think.
If You Want to Convey a Negative
Of another person’s recommendation, I added the following gently-couched negative statement, “_____ isn’t always clear in what she needs. She sometimes needs encouragement to draw out details that might be useful to the execution of the project.” I did my best to make this sentiment clearly an issue, but didn’t crush the person. I didn’t say, “____ is too shy and mumbly to successfully convince people to follow her lead.” The first would be a bit kind to her; the second a bit harsh.
And again, if there’s a reason you wouldn’t recommend the person, don’t.
Turning Down a Recommendation
Sadly, I’ve had lots of experience doing this. If I follow you on Twitter and have commented on your blog here and there, I still don’t really know just what kind of marketer you are. I just can’t tell someone to work with you, if I don’t have much experience with you as a colleague.
Here’s how I word those rejections of a recommendation:
“Hi _____ —
I’m honored you asked for a recommendation. Thanks for thinking of me. Because I haven’t worked enough with you professionally, I fear my recommendation wouldn’t be useful. I simply can’t vouch for your work experience beyond our casual interactions online. Best of luck in getting some stellar recommendations.
You can use a variation on that, if you’d like.
Recommendations Work Two Ways
I can’t tell you the number of times that my recommendation of someone else got either me or that person a new hit for a potential project moments after it got posted. Recommendations show up in the network updates, so people connected to either of us see them. That in mind, it makes for a great potential success builder.
They work in two ways because it shows what you value in others, and it also obviously works for the person you’ve recommended.
What else can I tell you about recommendations on LinkedIn? Do you have a few you can leave to others? Swing by LinkedIn and leave some recommendations for people who can use them.