If you keep scrolling through your LinkedIn Profile, tucked in at the bottom you’ll find the Recommendation section. And it’s not getting a lot of love these days.
Which is kind of ironic because it’s one of the oldest sections of the profile. And one of the few that hasn’t seen any significant changes over the years.
Being down there at the end of the profile makes it easy to skip over. Many professionals gloss over it because they don’t know how to ask for recommendations from their network. And they don’t know the powerful impact a robust Recommendation section can create. But…
Adding 3rd-party testimonials to your profile is one of the fastest ways to super-charge your LinkedIn profile and improve your online networking.
This Isn’t a Formal Letter of Recommendation
Most professionals misjudge the purpose of the Recommendation section. That’s because they are used to only asking for recommendations a few times over the course of their careers.
And since they rarely ask, it’s a big deal for them. It could be to get into college or a post-grad program. Or it could be from a boss that they’ve done really stellar work for and who is well-connected in the company. These are important testimonials
But that’s not what the Recommendation section on LinkedIn is for.
It’s not a formal letter of recommendation. Rather, it’s a statement of credibility. It’s how you can establish trust with the reader of your profile from the very beginning.
Because when someone visits your profile, they can’t be 100% positive that everything you say on your profile is true. Hopefully it is, but they don’t know that for sure. It’s possible that you’ve made everything up.
Creating Credibility with Social Proof
But when a 3rd-party has recommended you, there’s a lot more credibility. Robert Cialdini called this social proof in his book, Influence. Your reader sees that other people have trusted you and engaged with you, and are more likely to extend their own trust to you.
To see this in action in your own life, think back to the last time you went to an ecommerce website like Amazon. I’d guess that one of the pieces of information that guided your decision-making was the review and rating system. It allows people who have already bought the product to share their experience. The platforms incorporate these recommendation mechanics so that you can have some trust in what you are buying.
And if faced with a decision between two products, you’ll often go with the one that has more and/or better reviews. There is more social proof that it’s a good product.
On LinkedIn, the Recommendation section helps you create social proof that you are who you say you are, and that you can do what you say you can do. In the LinkedIn ecosystem, recommendations are an essential piece of 3rd-party credibility since they have to come from another member.
That’s why you want to have them, because they create a more robust and believable picture of who you are as a professional.
How to Get Your Next 5 Recommendations
Since you are simply looking for 3rd-party credibility, a LinkedIn recommendation can be short. Even two or three sentences can be enough to convey trust. There’s also a good chance that your profile visitor will only read the first sentence or so because that is all that’s initially visible on the profile without clicking through for more.
And because LinkedIn recommendations aren’t as formal as a letter of recommendation, they can be a lot easier to get. You don’t have to wait for a special situation. In fact, it can be useful to ask many different people for recommendations:
- Your manager or other leaders you’ve engaged with
- Co-workers and colleagues you’ve worked closely with
- Clients and outside partners (especially if you are in sales)
- Friends from professional and industry organizations
- Employees and direct reports who worked for you
A good place to start is with the people in your network who are similar to the future readers you are trying to influence. For example, if you are in sales, getting recommendations from clients will be important. If you are trying to hire and build a team, you will want to tap past and current employees. Or if you are an executive, reach out to trusted peers who can speak to your leadership experience.
Start with the people that you are most comfortable asking, and build from there. You can even reach out to friends and close co-workers to start with. As long as they can help create some 3rd-party trust, their recommendation is a valuable addition to your profile.
How to Get Recommendations
When asking for a LinkedIn recommendation, keep the message short, simple, and to the point. You are asking for a bit of their time and effort, so you want to keep it as easy as possible. Here is example language you can use to model your ask:
I wanted to ask a favor. I’m looking to enhance my LinkedIn profile and was hoping you would be willing to write a short LinkedIn recommendation for me.
Just writing 2-3 sentences would be incredibly valuable and give people some insights into my work. When we had worked together, you had mentioned that (you appreciated my commitment, you thought I had creative ideas, found me easy to work with, etc.). Even a few sentences on that would be really helpful.
Thank you for your help with this. I really appreciate it.
Get More Recommendations Now
It’s easy to put off asking for recommendations, because it’s far down at the bottom of the profile and it can be uncomfortable to ask. But you’ll be surprised at how many people will be willing to help if you just ask. And you can even return the favor and provide short recommendations for your connections, even if they don’t ask.
LinkedIn recommendations provide a fuller picture of your credibility as a professional. And you’ll encourage others to connect with you, engage with you on LinkedIn, and most importantly, work with you.