College students are joining LinkedIn everyday. In the last month, I’ve received numerous questions about LinkedIn recommendations — who to ask, what to write, how to follow-up, and more. Here, I will provide a few tips for approaching the LinkedIn recommendation request process.
Ask people who know your work well.
Ask for LinkedIn recommendations from your biggest fans! Stay away from requesting recommendations from people who are only lukewarm about your talents, or people you haven’t worked with in a long time. The best recommendations provide positive and specific feedback about your work. “Jill is a great addition to our team” is not nearly as compelling as “Jill’s warm spirit and collaborative nature, showcased while working with a cross-functional team on our website overhaul project, made her a great addition to our team.” You can request recommendations from professors, supervisors, colleagues at internships, classmates, and virtually anyone with whom you’ve shared professional or academic experiences.
Ask people who can write well (and spell correctly).
Your LinkedIn recommendations are a reflection on you. If your recommendations are filled with spelling errors or poor grammar, your own personal brand may be knocked down a peg. Request recommendations from people who can articulate their thoughts clearly through writing. Think it through before you ask for a recommendation, because it’s very awkward to ask someone to alter their recommendation once it’s done – especially if there are no glaring mistakes, just poor writing.
Give them some guidance.
Don’t use the generic “I’m asking you for a brief recommendation” text. Personalize each of your recommendation requests and give the person an idea what you’d like them to emphasize within their write-up. It can be simple: “I’d really appreciate if you could write a few words about the blogger outreach project I completed during my internship,” or “I’m looking for jobs in marketing research, so I’d appreciate if you could place emphasis on my work with qualitative and quantitative studies last summer.” Just giving this short prompt will help the person write a relevant, helpful recommendation for you.
Be polite and say “thank you.”
If someone takes time out of their day to write a LinkedIn recommendation for you, make sure to express appreciation – both in your initial request and in a follow-up message once the recommendation is written. People may feel used if they spend time writing a thoughtful recommendation and you don’t thank them afterwards.
The only other advice I have is to focus more on quality than quantity with LinkedIn recommendations. It’s better to have three descriptive and meaningful recommendations than 15 generic ones.
What is your best advice for LinkedIn recommendations?
Dan Klamm is the Outreach & Marketing Coordinator for Syracuse University Career Services. In his position, he is responsible for student engagement with Career Services. This includes managing the marketing campaigns for events and programs, leading social media initiatives, and fostering relationships with people across campus to build awareness of the office. Connect with him on Twitter @DanKlamm and LinkedIn.