What’s the best way to ask for a LinkedIn recommendation?

Love to add more recommendations to your LinkedIn profile but don’t know how to ask people for them?

Recommendations are a vitally important part of your LinkedIn profile. They tell recruiters, potential employers and freelance clients that you genuinely know what you’re talking about, and give a sense of what you’re really like as a colleague, employee or freelancer.

Here’s what LinkedIn says about recommendations:

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“…recommendations give a better idea of what you’re like to work with, where your true skills and passions are and what some of your strongest soft skills just might be. They also make it easier for opportunities to find you. When all else is equal, they could be the difference between a recruiter reaching out to you over another candidate…”

However, it’s not aways easy picking up the courage to ask someone to do a favour for you and write you a LinkedIn recommendation – especially if you don’t haven’t spoken to them for a while.

Two things you need to do before asking for a LinkedIn recommendation

To make it easy for you, we’ve prepared a quick template. But before you use it, there are two things you need to do.

1) Know what you’re asking for (and why you need it)

You need have a clear ask when approaching someone for a LinkedIn recommendation, and be direct in making it. If not, you could end up with a generic “Lucy is great” reference, which won’t impress anyone.

Instead, you want a reference that’s specific. For example, if you’re going for a sales job you may want something like “Lucy was by fay our best closer because she’s consistently tenacious and has great connections with customers. She made us £2million in her last year with us, and every single client asked to work with her specifically.”

As LinkedIn themselves say:

“Always remember that the most compelling recommendations tell a story rather than provide empty statements.

A well-done recommendation should describe and give specific examples, whether they reflect someone’s ability to excel under pressure, act as a compassionate leader, succeed as a collaborative team-member or business partner. For recruiters, future hires or potential business partners, such a recommendation provides an important sign that this connection could be the person they are looking for.”

So know what you want your LinkedIn recommendation to cover and ask for it. It’s also easier for the person you’re asking if you give them guidance – and if you make it easier, they’re much more likely to respond!

2) Identify the connections who will be most helpful

You need to contact the right people when making your request – people who know and respect your work, and are likely to respond.

For this reason it’s best to approach someone with whom you had a significant working relationship, and not the professional equivalent of a one night stand!

So someone you’ve worked with or for for just a week won’t be the best person to ask. Not only will they not know you well enough to write anything genuinely significant, but they may not feel confident putting their name to a reference for someone they’ve barely worked with.

It’s also a good idea to approach someone from the same industry you wish to work in. A LinkedIn recommendation from someone in the same industry as your ideal employer or freelance client is likely to carry more weight for them than an unrelated sector.

Here’s your template!

When you’ve worked out what you’re going to ask of which people, send them a message that sounds something like this:

Hello <name>

I hope all is well with you. <maybe add a personal note here – ask after their partner or children, ask how their current job is going or share a mutual memory>

I’m currently planning my return to work/extending my portfolio of freelance clients and would love a short recommendation from you for my LinkedIn profile, if that’s okay? Just five lines on <be specific here about the project, results or personal attributes you’d like them to mention> would be fantastic.

If there’s anything I can do to help you, such as a reference in return, please just say. 

Look forward to hearing back from you.

<sign off>

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