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I consider myself to be a good LinkedIn social citizen. I know my network and I engage with my network regularly. But like everyone else, occasionally I slip. I recently had a contact reach out to me and request a Recommendation. I instantly knew I had messed up when I saw his message, “Alright, I wrote you a recommendation. Now it’s your turn to write me one.” Of course, there was a playful tone to his message. He and I go way back and I knew that he wasn’t angry with me. But had I really forgotten to write him a Recommendation after he so kindly wrote one for me?
It appeared that I had.
For those of you that are not aware, LinkedIn Recommendations are a “review” or comment of sorts that one LinkedIn member can post to another LinkedIn member’s profile, allowing them to highlight skills and achievements that they know that person possesses. It is a wonderful tool for recognizing great work publicly:
- Recommendations can aid your network in the job search process. Recruiters love reading recommendations on LinkedIn Profiles! It lets them know that this person has been successful, according to their peers, supervisors and other members of their network.
- They can aid in building business. Many times, previous or existing customers write Recommendations for someone that they’ve had a great experience working with. When prospective customers see these Recommendations, it encourages them to work with that individual.
- By reading others’ Recommendations, you can identify professionals to partner with in a number of other capacities; assembling a strong board for your organization, searching for a strong mentor or networking in a particular field or industry.
And let us not forget, as I eluded to earlier, that when you write a LinkedIn Recommendation for someone, you often receive one in return.
What makes a great LinkedIn Recommendation?
You may already be generating a mental list of some of the rock stars in your network that you would like to write a Recommendation for. There are a few things that you will want to keep in mind when you’re crafting Recommendations.
First and foremost, be honest. You want to make sure that the information you’re sharing truly represents who they are and the experience that you have had with them. Inaccurate or exaggerated Recommendations do not serve the recipient. They can also compromise your own credibility.
You may want to consider drafting the Recommendation in Word before posting it. This will allow you to play around with wording before it needs to be posted. You can also keep track of the number of characters this way. LinkedIn Recommendations cannot be longer than 3000 characters. Remember folks, this is not a traditional recommendation letter. Hiring managers, recruiters, customers and contacts are not going to read a long Recommendation as they’re skimming Profiles; especially not if they’re using a mobile device. I recommend keeping your Recommendations between 400 and 1200 characters as a general rule.
Ideas to Get You Started
The truth is, there is not a right or wrong way to write a Recommendation, but I’ve put together a few ideas that might help to get you started:
- Explain how you know the person that you are recommending. You will see a list of steps in the Recommendations screen that will request that you include information about your relationship to the person you’re recommending. You will also be able to input the positions that you both held at the time.
In addition to this information, I suggest including additional relationship details in the body of Recommendation. How long did you work together? Did you work directly with this person in a team or on a project? These kinds of additional details provide context for the reader.
- Highlight their strengths upfront. I don’t think you need to name every strength you believe this person has, but pick 1-3 strengths that you have the most exposure to and evidence of and write about those. This will give your Recommendation some structure and focus.
Remember when we learned how to write thesis statements in grade school? Think thesis statement.
- What makes this person remarkable? This one may relate closely to a person’s strengths. But how can you go beyond what may end up being standard professional strengths to include information that really captures a person’s unique abilities? There are over 370 million professionals on LinkedIn. There is no shortage of selection. Help your “recommendee” stand out among the crowd.
If LinkedIn Recommendations has been an area that you haven’t paid a lot of attention to recently, it’s time to get back in the game. Recommendations can be helpful to your network and to you. They only take a few minutes and can make a huge difference.
For additional information on LinkedIn Recommendations, here is another post from the Intero team – What Happened to LinkedIn Recommendations?