Don’t neglect LinkedIn recommendations

One of the things most likely to help you stand out on LinkedIn is something that’s been around for years: the ability to request recommendations.

A brief, written recommendation from a connection has always been incredibly powerful, but today it’s even more so. Why? Given the introduction of endorsements, recommendations seem to be getting somewhat marginalized as users either shy away from asking for them (thinking those who have given endorsements have already been kind enough) or don’t take the time to give them (because giving an endorsement is so much quicker and easier).

That’s a shame because endorsements are far weaker than recommendations. (Need evidence? The comments to this post give a glimpse into how little value recruiters, just as one example, give to endorsements.) The fact of the matter is, a recommendation will always serve you well because it is:

  • Credible. Want people to think you’re great? If you say so yourself, they may not believe you. When someone else with no self-interest does, however, it’s much more likely to seem accurate.
  • Descriptive. Listing a skill doesn’t say much about your abilities, especially when compared to a brief narrative that shows why you’re great.
  • Digestible. Most LinkedIn recommendations are only a few sentences long. Enough to say something substantive for sure, but not too long to be consumed in a matter of seconds.

There’s a challenge that comes with recommendations, however: to get them, you’ll likely you’ll have to request them. That not hard from a mechanical standpoint, but many of have an aversion to asking others for their help. Don’t fall into that trap, though. There are likely many people out there who would be willing to say a few good words about you if only they were asked. And you can guarantee, as you hesitate to ask out of fear of being rejected, or seeming too forward, too presumptuous, or too needy, your competitors are swallowing their pride and sending out their connection requests–perhaps even to some of the same people you should be asking.

If you want to tell your story as a professional on LinkedIn, then, take the opportunity to have your connections tell it for you by asking for recommendations when warranted. Doing so has never been more rare–and therefore more effective–in helping you stand out from the crowd.


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