LinkedIn Recommendation Etiquette

Happy New Year… and welcome to 2012!

I am anxiously looking forward to what lies ahead this year, and I hope you are too.  It seems as though a lot of us have been carrying around a lot of “heavy stuff” for a long time.  I’m optimistic that 2012 will be the year that we get out from under the heavy loads we’ve been carrying and get back to fully enjoying the lives we want and should have.  Best wishes to all.

I’m starting off the New Year with several posts over the next few days.  Today, I’m writing about LinkedIn Recommendations and then, starting tomorrow and for the next few days, I’m going to be writing about my experiences teaching Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager classes to a very interesting group of people.  Yeah, I know, it’s a cheap teaser, but I hope you’ll come back daily to see what’s going on.

LinkedIn and Recommendations

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve received several requests from business acquaintances (operative word) asking if I would write recommendations for them in LinkedIn.  Now, I’m a big believer in the power of well-written recommendations by others, and I’ve written several (both solicited and unsolicited) in the past.  When you view my LinkedIn profile , you’ll see that I’ve also received several recommendations.  But with the recent requests that I received for recommendations, I found the requests a bit odd (heck, maybe it’s just me).

First, these individuals solicited me by sending what seemed to be the standard LinkedIn generated request.  I viewed the requests as a bit cold and not very motivating.  Second, they provided no guidance as to what areas of their “professional career” they wanted me to write a recommendation about.  And finally, they approached this from a “Give me” attitude.  So, I thought I’d share with you a few of my thoughts and observations about “LinkedIn Recommendation Etiquette”.

If you are a user of LinkedIn you are probably familiar with the Recommendations feature of this fantastic social media website.  If you aren’t using LinkedIn, or aren’t familiar with the Recommendations feature, let’s get up to speed.

According to LinkedIn, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 135 million members and growing rapidly. Your LinkedIn profile is discoverable through the millions of searches on search engines and on LinkedIn itself. You are in complete control over what others see on your profile, so leverage this to showcase your skills and talents so the right people and opportunities find you.  If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile already set-up, I’d encourage you to do so and discover how this social media tool can add value to your professional life.

One of the features LinkedIn offers is Recommendations.  Recommendations written by others about you help illustrate your achievements, project credibility, and show why people enjoy working with you.  LinkedIn claims that users with recommendations are three times as likely to get inquiries through LinkedIn searches.  Generally, you must seek out and approve recommendations from connections of your choosing.  Recommendations give those viewing your profile a fuller view of you as a direct report, boss, colleague, or client. They make your LinkedIn profile more dynamic and personal than the fairly static information (where you worked, what you did) that appears in your general resume.

But you can also do more harm than good with a LinkedIn recommendation. If you don’t pick the most appropriate people, or if you use too many people, it might scare off potential employers who might look at those recommendations as a red flag rather than a helpful vote of confidence.

Recommendation Etiquette

In most instances, in order to begin acquiring recommendations, you will need to be proactive and solicit a few of your current LinkedIn connections and ask for a recommendation.  Later on, you may be fortunate and start receiving unsolicited recommendations.  In my opinion, those mean the most!

Research your LinkedIn Connections and ask for a recommendation only from those individuals who have a solid relationship with you (not somebody who is vaguely familiar with you).  You will also want to make sure you solicit those that you feel can write an effective message about you.

Offer a gift before accepting one.  I look at recommendations as a gift.  People don’t have to write these.  But, they chose to spend time creating a message on your behalf.  It’s a gift.  So, rather than simply ask for a recommendation, try this … take the time to write an accurate and positive recommendation for the person you are asking and send it to them.  Then, immediately call them or drop them an e-mail letting them know you wrote a recommendation on their behalf, and ask if they would mind doing the same for you.  In your request, you’ll want to identify the two or three key points that you would like their recommendation to address, but don’t set overly specific guidelines.  Simply mention that you’d be happy to offer them if they think it would be helpful.   You might get a terrific surprise in their writing because they included something you hadn’t thought of.  Finally, when you receive their recommendation, be sure to thank them.

One point to remember is volume is not the key factor when it comes to recommendations.  I’d much rather have 10-12 well-written recommendations from people who really know me and my work and can influence others, versus 20-30 average to poorly written recommendations from people who I’m only connected to through a casual acquaintance.

When you receive a recommendation, you’ll get notified via email.  You’ll be able to view the recommendation and request a revision, if necessary.  If for some reason you don’t want the recommendation on your profile, you have the option of not publishing it.

Lastly, if you receive a recommendation, especially one you solicited for and you hadn’t already written a recommendation for the person recommending you, then please have the courtesy to write a well-thought out recommendation in return.  LinkedIn will prompt you for this.  It’s a very nice gesture and shows appreciation to someone who has done something nice for you.

Getting Prepared In a Year

I mentioned in my last blog that throughout 2012 I would be including a series of simple actionable items each of us can perform to become better prepared for emergencies or disasters.  The following starts our Preparedness Roadmap!  So, let’s get started …

To get started:

  • Check around your house for supplies that you already have on hand.
  • Decide where you will store supplies (food may be packed together in a single container or kept on shelves for easy rotation)

Next time you are at the grocery store, pick up the following items (if you don’t have them already):

  • One gallon of water per person in your home (don’t forget about your pets either)
  • One jar of peanut butter
  • One large can of juice
  • One can meat (ie tuna, chicken, ravioli, beef stew, Spam, corned beef, etc)
  • A hand-operated can opener
  • Instant coffee, tea, powered drinks
  • A permanent marking pen (to mark the date on cans)
  • (if needed) Pet food
  • (if needed) Baby food and diapers

Things to do:

  • Make a “Family Plan”.  Check out “Ready In 3” or “Ready.gov
  • With your family, discuss the types of disasters that could occur in your area.  You might want to ask your local or state Emergency Management Agency.
  • As a family, talk about how to prepare, explain when and how to respond
  • Discuss what to do if your family has to evacuate.
  • Practice your plan.
  • Date each perishable food item (see groceries above) using the marking pen
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