The easiest way to boost your LinkedIn profile is to receive recommendations. You could think of a recommendation as a compact version of a letter of recommendation; however, recommendations have transformed LinkedIn into “Yelp” for job seekers.
While Endorsements are a great way to show “social proof” of your skills, recommendations provide context for readers who are interested in your skills and experience. These personal reviews are also linked to both your profile and the profile of the person providing your recommendation.
Whether you are a serial job seeker or joining the job market for the first time in a decade, LinkedIn can be a game-changing tool. Requesting a recommendation is easy, but receiving one back can require some effort and patient on your part. This guide will walk you through how to get more recommendations on LinkedIn.
Identify Valuable Connections
We define valuable Connections as the Connections that will engage with you, support you, and benefit you in some way. If you are new to LinkedIn, your most valuable Connections will be those who already know you. Reaching out to family, friends, and co-workers is the first step.
Using the contacts linked to your login email address, you’ll be able to send Connection Requests to the people you already know. When they accept and connect with you, they become your 1st Connections. The LinkedIn users that they are connected to become your 2nd Connections. The next tier are your 3rd Connections.
Free LinkedIn accounts will let you find and connect with your 2nd and 3rd Connections. For this reason, many LinkedIn users will send and accept Connection Requests to any and every one; but this approach doesn’t always gain you “valuable” Connections. You will want to identify which LinkedIn users in your 2nd and 3rd Connections will offer value to you.
Valuable Connections aren’t just personal friends and family members. Potential valuable Connections include former supervisors and/or co-workers, professors or instructors, and colleagues who have worked with you on a team or project. A valuable Connection is someone familiar with your skills and the value you offer.
Send Personalized Invites
Once you identify a handful of valuable Connections, reach out to them on LinkedIn using Personalized Invites. When you click the Connect button on a LinkedIn profile, a generic message is sent to the user. Since most sources recommend not accepting Connection Requests from people you don’t know, your request will likely fail miserably.
Typically, a Personalized Invite should very concisely introduce yourself and explain how you believe the connection will be mutually beneficially for both of you. You only get 300 characters, so make them count! This may require a little research on your part to find some common ground as an icebreaker. Here’s an example of a Personalized Invite:
I recently completed my PMP certification, and I’m working on expanding my network while on the hunt for the perfect Project Manager job. I see that you work in the HR department at Company A. Would you be willing to connect with me and tell me more about working for Company A?
When sending a Personalized Invite to request a recommendation, your approach should differ since you already know the person. For example:
Hope this message finds you well! I’ve been working on boosting my LinkedIn profile, and I’m reaching out to the team that worked with me on Project A last year. Would you be willing to connect with me and write a short recommendation about your experience working with me?
To send a Personalized Invite, don’t click the Connect button when viewing People You May Know. First, view the profile. From your desktop, click the Connect button and then click Add Note in order to send a Personalized Invite. Alternatively, you could use the LinkedIn mobile app. Click on the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner of the screen and click Personalize invite.
Be Clear About Your Career Goals
Once you’ve gained some valuable Connections and learned how to send Personalized Invites, you should have some conversations moving forward. The most important thing you could do is be very clear about your career goals and which skills you’re looking to highlight on your profile.
With our example, Sam is a Software Engineer transitioning into an IT Project Manager role. He has experience working on projects and not so much in managing projects, but he just received his PMP certification.
Once John has accepted Sam’s Connection Request, Sam should follow-up with more information. John may not have even known that Sam was pursuing a Project Manager opening and may have written a broad recommendation about his software testing skills.
Be Specific In Your Request
If you ask for a recommendation with minimal details, you’ll likely get a response that isn’t as advantageous. For example, John may write a recommendation about Sam’s work ethic rather than speaking specifically to his project management skills.
Sam has experience in assisting with project planning and cost control, developing status reports, mentoring other less-experienced Software Engineers, etc. Sam should be strategic in asking for a recommendation that directly relates to his project management skills. You should be just as specific in your request for a recommendation.
Provide A Link
As a seasoned LinkedIn user, you already know that the desktop user experience has drastically be updated. It’s far easier to request Recommendations now, and here’s how. View the user’s profile and click on the three dots (horizontal on desktop, vertical on the mobile app). You’ll see the option to request a recommendation.
With this approach, a pop-up will appear asking you to indicate how you know the person and through which company (on your profile) you interacted with this person. This will help the person who receives your request remember you, which ultimately increases your chances of receiving a response. You can then customize your request. This approach automatically generates a link that the user can click to instantly write you a recommendation.
Alternatively, you could directly email the person for a recommendation. This would be really smart if you received an email with great feedback from a supervisor or client/customer. Let’s say Sam received an email from his former Project Manager saying that the customer was thrilled that the project was delivered on-time and he credited that to your help with planning the project. Sam should email back saying he’s happy he was able to help and he’d greatly appreciate a recommendation on LinkedIn.
If someone is willing to take the time to email you feedback (and that person has a LinkedIn account), that person will likely take a few extra minutes to write that recommendation; but you have to ask! In this case, make sure you include a link in the email directing that person to the Recommendations Manager on LinkedIn.
Here’s that link for future reference: www.linkedin.com/recs/give
If you don’t include a link, you may lose the recommendation if the LinkedIn user isn’t as familiar with how to find and give a recommendation. If that user has to fumble through LinkedIn for the next 10-20 minutes, you’ll definitely lose the recommendation.
Don’t risk it. Make it simple.
Send A Reminder Politely
Things happen, and people get busy. You can politely send a reminder using the Recommendations Manager (Access the Recommendations Manager: www.linkedin.com/recs). You should wait at least a week or two before sending a reminder because many LinkedIn users only login once a week.
When sending your reminder, customize the message to encourage a response. The automated reminder is a repeat of your first request which just looks annoying. Change your message to remind the LinkedIn user about your experience working together or to bring attention to something new that you noticed on his or her profile such as a particular accomplishment or article shared.
Proofread & Request Edits Politely
Once you receive a new recommendation, you should look over it for any typos. If you were specific enough in your request, you shouldn’t be disappointed in the content. After all, this person is taking the time to brag about you publicly. Feels pretty good, right?
Typos can make that person look not so good, so do him or her a favor and point out any issues. You can do this politely by keeping the recommendation private (or not posted to your profile) and messaging them back like this:
Wow! Thank you so much for the kind words! Your recommendation will be a great addition to my profile, and I greatly appreciate your support.
I did notice a small typo in the second sentence. I didn’t think you’d appreciate that being posted to my profile without giving you a chance to fix it really quick.
Say Thank You
It’s just common decency. Like the example above, sending a quick thank you note is appropriate, but you should take it a step further. Ask the user if you can do to help boost his or her profile with a recommendation or a couple endorsements.
Why ask first? Give that person a chance to identify what will be most advantageous to him or her like you did in asking for a recommendation highlighting certain skills. This also promotes continued discussion which is at the core of networking.