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People love you, you do great work, you are a mover and a shaker.  Great – time to go collect all that information and make sure it gets seen.  This is, along with increasing the size of your network, potentially the most stressful part of your profile.  Unlike asking for the standard three people for folks to call, you have to contact people and get them to write about you.  A few tips will get you on your way:

  1. Be selective in who you ask.  Just like giving recommendations, you aren’t on trial and you don’t need character witnesses.  You need professional statements from folks who are familiar with your work who can speak to the benefit you brought or are bringing to the role.  Managers, team members, folks who worked with you or for you.
  2. Pick different types of people.  Now, this might sound a bit contradictory, but you don’t want only managers (same as middle school, no one appreciates the teacher’s pet).  Spread it around – managers, directors, team members, customers, vendors, folks who were on your project team.  Show you are well rounded and work well with others across (and outside) the organization.
  3. Be ready to ask for the type of recommendation you need.  Some people will ask what you want them to say – be ready with an answer that doesn’t write the recommendation for them and suggests one or two specifics.

    Thanks so much for asking, Bucky – I came to you because of the great relationship we had when you first came to Acme Inc. and were working on the Modulator project.  My new role at Sprockets & Widgets involves many cross functional teams and I was hoping you could speak to my abilities in that area.

  4. Request the recommendation for the correct job experience and try to make sure you have at least two recommendations for each position.  LinkedIn shows two under each job by default, so you want to round out your profile by spreading out the recommendations across your career.
  5. This one should go without saying, but avoid family members and friends who have nothing to do with your professional experience.  Yes, we know they love you and all, but they simply won’t carry the credibility of a non-relation.  And this still applies even if you work for the family business – skip Uncle Mikey and ask vendors or customers instead.
  6. Don’t accept all the recommendations at once.  Each recommendation will appear on the LinkedIn feed so “hold” recommendations and release them on days where you need a bump.  If it is a reciprocal recommendation (you recommended them previously), hold it for a bit longer so you don’t look like a trader.
  7. Choose people who give good recommendations.  Go to their profile, scroll down to recommendations and choose “Given”.  Look for folks who sound genuine and who “tell stories” about their work with other people.  In general, avoid “profile buffers” – they will have exact swaps on recommendations and most of theirs will sound generic.  Avoid “buzzwordy” people – you want the folks reading to have a clue what the recommender is saying.
  8. Choose people with full profiles and pictures – there is going to be a click thru in most cases.  Make sure the recommender not only looks good but benefits from the increased visibility.
  9. You will have the option once the recommendation has been received to request changes.  Use this very carefully, if at all.  Most people put time and effort into their recommendation and you don’t want to risk seeming ungrateful or (worse) insulting them.  Exceptions would be factual errors or sensitive information – if Fred cites a major project that is still under NDA or if you didn’t work on that project, a polite note requesting he revise is appropriate.

    Thanks so much for the wonderful recommendation, Fred!  I can’t wait to post it on LinkedIn, but I thought before I did you may want to remove the reference to Sekrit Project Groundhog.  I know you and I did similar work on Massive Public Success 410 that was released last year.

  10. Personalize your recommendation request and include a few hints about what type of recommendation you’d like to receive.

    Hello, Agnes – I was thinking about the time we worked together at Widgets and was hoping you had the time to say a few words about our professional relationship.  Everyone worked together so well on the Wigifax 2010 team and I really appreciated your mentorship when I moved over to marketing.  Thanks so much!

How to request?  Just go to “Edit Profile”, scroll down to Recommendations, click the edit pencil on the right and choose “Ask to be recommended”.  You also have the options here to give and manage recommendations and their visibility.  Key thing – be sure to correctly choose what you want to be recommended for – this determines where the recommendation appears in your profile and under which role.

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