Social proof is one of the big keys to any kind of marketing, on or offline. Businesses have been soliciting testimonials ever since the existence of commerce. On LinkedIn, recommendations are one form of social proof, and they are very, very important. Yet, most users have few if any of them! Let’s talk about how you can get more recommendations so that you can beef up your profile and start making LinkedIn work for you and your career or business interests.
In general, you need to first give what you want to get. My Dad used to tell me that if you want friends, you have to first be a friend! That was great advice to a young kid, and it’s great advice on social media, especially on LinkedIn. But, what does this mean? Well, it means the following: If you want more recommendations, you have to start recommending people!
Here’s the deal, though. Although LinkedIn might change this, at the moment you can only recommend people who are your first tier, or direct connections. To do this, just go to their profile page, and click the “More” button. You’ll see where to recommend them. So, if you want more recommendations, you’re going to have to consistently start recommending other people.
I recommend making a list of people that you have worked with in the past and asking them for a recommendation. Most professionals will be actually very happy to hear from you and will gladly take a minute to write a recommendation. This is different than asking for a reference for a position and less pressure on them.
If you are in the unfortunate circumstance of believing that no one you have worked with will write you a recommendation you’d be surprised what people remember about you. I contacted someone who I felt that due my pride and ego I had left a bad impression on. This was one of the first jobs in media right out of college. They laughed, brushed it off and said thanks for the apology but it wasn’t necessary. They remembered me as a great assistant.
I wouldn’t just recommend people you don’t know, though. Although that might be, since probably most of the people you’re connected with you don’t actually know that well, recommending someone out of the blue like that just isn’t, well, recommended! It looks fake, probably because it is fake. This means that you’re going to need to either sort through your connections and find people you actually know and can actually recommend, or you’re going to have to go back to step one and get more connections. Either way, if you want more recommendations, you’re going to have to do this! That’s the bad news. The good news is this…it doesn’t take many outbound recommendations in order to receive one back. And, quite frankly, you don’t need a ton. Just a few good ones!