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The other day I noticed my Linked-In profile did not have a whole ton of recommendations. I have worked with quite a few people over the past few years.

How should I request a recommendation from Linked-In (both people I currently work with as well as previous coworkers who I may not have maintained communication with)?


I am looking for a more detailed answer than "ask!" for this question. I realize at some stage in the process I will have to request a recommendation (though, according to the current top voted answer, this is actually not necessary).

Additionally, I am looking for how to request recommendations from someone I may not have maintained communication with over the years since we were coworkers. I may not even have added them on Linked-In due to the timings of our work experience and the inception of Linked-In (or they may not even have one). Are there additional factors to consider in these sorts of situations?

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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    Not trying to sound like a jerk here, but I find the best approach is to just ask. If you feel uncomfortable asking them then you probably shouldn't be asking for one from that person. – Eric Sanders Oct 12 '12 at 20:39
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    @Eric: What you wrote shouldn't have been a comment. It is an Answer. – Nav Oct 14 '12 at 17:28
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    @Nav - No it is a great comment but not an answer. An answer is detailed and discusses the why's as well as the hows. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 15 '12 at 13:04
14

I recently did the following:

  1. I chose specific people with whom I've had recent contact and who, collectively, provide some breadth. (E.g. I'd rather have recommendations from an interaction designer, a senior developer, and a product manager than just three developers.) I also sent a request to someone I'd previously provided a (solicited) recommendation for.

  2. I used the LinkedIn interface to send the requests but I wrote personal messages to each.

  3. In those messages I said what areas I hoped that particular person would be able to address (while saying that of course I'd welcome a recommendation on anything they cared to write about). I did this partly because of the considerations in #1 and partly to overcome the "um, what should I write?" problem.

  4. I did not send them all at once, because I don't want to give linked coworkers (who get those weekly updates) the impression that I'm actively looking.

For people you haven't stayed in touch with, put yourself in the other person's shoes and ask yourself: how will this person respond to this request out of the blue? If you had a very strong working relationship years ago but haven't stayed in touch, the person might remember you fondly and be willing to write one (but see below). If he's likely to be asking himself "who is that again?", then he's probably going to delete the email.

But even if the relationship was strong and you think he'll write a recommendation, it's better to actually get in touch first yourself, outside of LinkedIn. Send email, ask about his {family, pet, hobby he always talked about, etc}, share something he might be interested in if you can (such as a pointer to an article on something he's passionate about), and only then request the reommendation.

If you didn't have a strong relationship to begin with, then asking for the recommendation is premature, and you'll have to start with getting back in touch, see where the conversation leads, and decide later if asking for a recommendation is appropriate.

16

Write recommendations for others, or at least offer to do so when you ask someone if they'll write one for you. If you can't write a reasonably detailed recommendation for someone, you probably shouldn't bother asking him or her to write one for you.

Edit based on expansion of original question: For people with whom you've been out of contact for a while, I think the first step is to regain contact. Ask to add them with a personal note, and try to exchange an email or two. Then offer to write them a recommendation and ask if they'd mind writing a short one for you. A problem is that this could be considered 'stale' information. I might have trouble recalling details after a few years, and feel uncomfortable because of that and because I don't know if a person has changed since I worked with him or her.

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    This doesn't answer my question – enderland Oct 13 '12 at 4:24
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    @enderland Why doesn't it answer your question? It is an approach to getting recommendations. – Jeanne Boyarsky Oct 13 '12 at 12:31
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    @JeanneBoyarsky I guess I'm looking for answers which aren't simply comments? – enderland Oct 13 '12 at 18:33
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    Sorry, I have to chime in this IS an answer! This is exactly what I do. It's a matter of etiquette. I give people unsolicited recommendations and then I HOPE they will return the favor - if they think highly of me. I, and others I know, consider actually asking for it to be poor form. – Michael Durrant Oct 14 '12 at 15:03
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    This is part of an answer but writing recommendations for other does not have a 1-1 or any real correlation to recommendations received. But this is not a whole answer. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 15 '12 at 13:02
2

Here's the simplest and most direct answer: excel at your job.

I've written a number of LinkedIn recommendations over the years, and only once have I been approached for a recommendation by somebody. The person who contacted me was someone I would have without them having to ask. Every recommendation I write is sincere, because everyone I've recommended has something valuable to offer.

You'll get recommendations without having to ask if you really apply yourself at work and make your stuff shine. It is possible to do this no matter what your title is or level of experience. People can and will notice high quality work - though it's also on you to do enough self-promotion that others are aware of your accomplishments.

Personally, if someone has 3+ recommendations on LinkedIn, that's more than enough to convince me that they're capable. I tend to view recommendations as potential references - 3 is what's required to pass an interview, so you can at least make 3 friends in any job, you'll always be safe in the future.

What can really help is an attitude of learning to enjoy the process of forming partnerships at work. If you help others, they help you. It's that simple.

0

There are several approaches to getting a recommendation:

  • Ask somebody to write one for you. The request can be by email, phone, or via LinkedIn. These are the most effective when somebody can quickly judge that the recommendation is genuine and has some weight behind it. So target who you will ask. You might need to expand your contacts to get a high enough level of management.

  • Write one for somebody else. This works best if they are close to being your equal. Just because I write an unsolicited recommendation for the CEO of the company, I can't expect them to return the favor. This works best if a hiring manager may know the person that will be writing your recommendation. If they see that somebody they respect in their company knows you, they might consider the recommendation as being a good recommendation.

You are making a large assumptions regarding LinkedIn recommendations: that they have benefit. If I know the person that recommends you, then I can see the benefit. Otherwise I have no way to judge the validity of the recommendation. Too many recommendations may look worse than no recommendations.

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