22 Sep 2011

Recommetiquette: How to Ask for Recommendations Using LinkedIn

Nothing feels better than a pat on

22 Sep 2011

View Ken Stewart on LinkedInNothing feels better than a pat on the back, and LinkedIn makes no exception to this rule! For those not familiar with LinkedIn, it is a professional social platform to share opportunities, ideas and information. Millions of professionals subscribe, and some might coin the service as Facebook for business professionals.

Many have made valuable connections using this service, and I’m sure some have even landed a job from using LinkedIn. It is a great way to stay connected with clients and business colleagues alike.

In this fast-moving world, keeping up with changing e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and the who-knows-who game can be daunting. LinkedIn seeks to make that easier. While most everyone knows LinkedIn for its powerful connections features, I was surprised how few know or use the the recommendation feature – or worse – are intimidated to ask for a recommendation.


Let’s look at some LinkedIn recommendation etiquette. Quite simply put, if you feel you are worth a recommendation, ask for it. Don’t wait for someone to think of it for you. Trust me, they are thinking about a million other things than you.

This doesn’t mean that a warm and friendly request by you will receive a response, but generally people you are connected with respect you. So ask. The worst that could happen is that you don’t get the recommendation, and the best case is you get a glowing review from a respecting colleague or client.

Lastly, always change the generic message to something more personal (but not too familiar, mind you). More on this later.

Recommendations in a nutshell:

LinkedIn makes recommendations extremely simple once you make a connection. By simply clicking on Recommendations under the Profile heading, you are presented with the option to choose which job title for which you would like to seek recommendations.

As you can see in the example above, I have a few recommendations for two of my positions. The “thumbs-up” icon to the left indicates I have at least one recommendation, and I can choose to manage or ask to be endorsed.When asking to be endorsed, it is a simple 3 step process (see below).

  1. Step 1 is confirming the position you wish to be recommended for.
  2. In step 2, you must decide who you’ll ask.
  3. To complete the process, simply create your message. You can choose to leave the default subject and body of the message intact, but I strongly recommend you make this more personal. (Tip: It’s always great to include something personal, e.g. “It was great to see you at the last lunch n’ learn.”).
  4. (Optional): Wring your hands as you wait by your computer for a response.

What goes around comes around:

Once your colleague or client completes the recommendation, you will receive a message in your inbox inviting you to approve or decline the recommendation. This is a great way to ensure the recommendation meets with your high standards, right?

Perhaps the best feature about this recommendation process, in my humble opinion, is the fact that LinkedIn really believes in returning the favor. As such, you are immediately taken to a screen that asks you to write up a recommendation, in kind.

For those of you who understand sales principles, generally the best time to ask for a recommendation is immediately following the completion of a successful engagement. It’s genuinely the best opportunity you will ever have to ask for a flattering recommendation, as opposed to waiting until you are looking for a job or customer.

So, if you receive a request for a recommendation – make sure you take a little time and pay it forward. You never know, the very next e-mail in your inbox might just be that recommendation you have been waiting for coming right back to you… and there’s no better time than a recession to get that feel-good you get from a pat on the back, like a LinkedIn recommendation.

Who knows, maybe that will lead you to a great job-opportunity to boot!

Note: I originally posted this as a contributing author for Louis Gray.

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