As a technology professional it’s easy to assume networking & self-marketing isn’t necessary for career advancement. This is because up to a certain point, promotions and job offers come from technical skills alone. Ignoring this will limit opportunities to progress, as you will have to work much harder to prove possession of skills & attributes required to advance. It took me a long time to get comfortable with how to ask for LinkedIn recommendations. I’ve summarised my approach here.
If you follow the advice in this post, you will build up an online history of your progress that will be a goldmine for prospective employers.
As you progress into management and leadership LinkedIn recommendations will provide another level of value. Candidates for open positions on your team will read these recommendations and may choose to join your team based on what others have written.
Don’t make assumptions
Before developing this approach for asking for & giving linked in recommendations I tended to avoid thinking about them. I would ignore them or think negatively and actively avoid requesting/giving recommendations
These are the main assumptions I’ve made:
- I was asking too much from others by requesting a recommendation
- That I wasn’t significant enough in their eyes to warrant the time required to write a recommendation
- I knew I would have to give them a recommendation in return but feared “blank page” syndrome and that I wouldn’t know what to write
These are all wrong. Here is the reality of each point:
- If I enjoyed working for or with someone, they probably did too, and likely want to see me succeed. Writing a LinkedIn recommendation is a small way for them to make another contribution to success
- This is typical imposter syndrome. I just had to ignore this and request anyway.
- This is the main point of this article! Read on to learn how to frame your requests efficiently and help your recommender out.
How to make it easier for your recommender
Unless the recommender has their own process, they’re likely to procrastinate due to the blank page effect.
Help them out by framing your ideal recommendation. I do this by giving them a template like this example:
I’m keen on honest feedback, but I know it can be hard to think of what to write.
To make it less painful, you might pick one or more of the points below and write some words around how I may have performed?
- Leadership - Proactive, creative and metric based approach to enhancing performance of people and resolving issues
- Wide impact - decisions, advice and actions are impactful across the whole organisation
- Empathy - Championing fairness and equality - removing bias, encouraging open and fair communication
- Supportive of autonomy - did I let you approach problem solving in your own way?
- Air-support - did I help in any way if/when people came in from the side to interfere with your project or daily work?
… anything you’d like to be highlighted
Providing this framework gives your recommender an easy “jumping off point”. Together with the right way of asking I’ve had great results here. People tend to turn their recommendations around within hours or days, previously it would take significantly longer.
How to make it easier for you to return the favour
This one is really easy - just suggest they read this article!
How to ask for LinkedIn recommendations
Although you can simply request directly through LinkedIn, I like to ask “offline” first, to confirm the person is happy to help me out in this way. This means I either ask in person or in some form of instant message application before sending the “formal” LinkedIn request.
Here’s an example message you might use to request a recommendation from a boss or boss-adjacent colleague:
Hi! I really enjoyed working on your team, and I feel I learned so much from you. If you’re willing, I’d really appreciate it if you wrote a LinkedIn recommendation for me.
All good if you’re too busy - just let me know! Of course I’d love to return the favour and write one for you too :)
What to do next
Think of the people you’ve worked with in the past:
- Those you learned most from
- Those you think you helped the most
- Or those you most respected
Bite the bullet and send that request - they’ll be happy to hear from you & more than willing to help you out with your first LinkedIn recommendation!