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How To Write An Excellent LinkedIn Recommendation

January 15th, 2008

LinkedIn Recommendations - giving a professional endorsement, or thumbs up!Recommendations is a pretty powerful thing within LinkedIn. You can’t write your own, and you can’t edit what someone has submitted for you. You can just decided whether you want to show a recommendation or not. Because of this, each recommendation carries some weight.

Issues surrounding Recommendations are too complex for one blog post, so in this post I’ll just focus on writing an excellent recommendation. I’m not covering who to write one for, what to do if you don’t like the recommendation someone submits for you, how to solicit recommendation, etc. Just what makes an excellent one.

Two things come to mind:

First, make sure your recommendation is going to add business or professional value to the recipient. This is not the Facebook Wall, or the MySpace comment area. Recommendations are not “atta boys,” kudos or “happy birthdays.” They are meant to show a professional endorsement for that person.

Second, make sure your recommendation has specific information (and, is not too vague). You can say “Jason is an excellent project manager,” or you can say “Jason showed excellent project management skills by (example a, example b, example c).” The first one is just too vague… becoming cliche. The second one is more credible.

Now, I’ll probably be accused of wanting to flatter myself for posting this, but I just received it and I think it’s an excellent example of how to do a strong recommendation. This is from Patreece Thompson, who participated in a LinkedIn webinar that I did this morning:

“Jason conducted a webinar on LinkedIn that I found extremely valuable. He demonstrated a high degree of expertise and his presentation was clear and immediately actionable. He was sensitive to others that did not have the on-line visual. In addition, his style was open and inviting to questions (and expressed appreciation for them) and willingly gave his time to responding to questions thoroughly. Jason is extremely enthusiastic about his work which is infectious. I certainly would recommend him for any training on this topic.

Notice how powerful this recommendation is… it is much more specific than something like this:

Jason is a great presenter, I really enjoyed what he talked about. I would recommend Jason anytime.

Of course, my example is still positive and flattering, but Patreece’s recommendation has teeth… it has the kind of information and authority that means something.

I expect to see positive things about you in recommendations. Any specific stuff just seals the deal.

Be specific!

Want more info on optimizing LinkedIn? Check out the blog behind the book, I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???

Most LinkedIn Profiles suck. There. I said it. This is why I spent over 20 minutes critiquing five different Profiles on my LinkedIn DVD. If you have any questions you can hire me on an hourly rate, or for a fraction of that cost you can get the DVD. Details here.
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23 Responses to “How To Write An Excellent LinkedIn Recommendation”

  1. Ash says:

    Jason:

    Excellent point! This is also true for blogging, resume cover letters and just about any written communication today.

    However as I write this comment from my iPhone, with the worst keyboard for detailed writing, I see there are times where being mobile trumps being verbose. For example I’m writing from the airport on a mobile phone with distractions all around. I could wait to comment and possibly forget or do my best. Of course a LinkedIn rec would be better written with focus and attention.

  2. Haha, I never thought that people might confuse LinkedIn recommendations with the Facebook or Myspace wall, but I can totally see that.

    I should give a recommendation and say “Happy Birthday” just to see if they post it. :)

  3. If you can, check with the person if there is a particular trait or brand element they want emphasised.

    A reader of a LinkedIn recommendation will most likely focus on one trait per recommendation, in the case of “Jason” he is an excellent communicator. Maybe Jason would value a recommendation on his consulting skills in addition to the many recommendations he has received for presentation skills.

    On the flip side, if you receive a recommendation that is not consistent with the direction your career/brand is going (for example you want to be seen as a Project Manager not a Programmer) thank the person and ask if they’d consider some suggested changes or (after a week or two) simply stop display it.

  4. Bill Bruce says:

    I just found your Blog today for the first time. I am preparing to recommend someone on LinkedIn and I googled “sample LinkedIn recommendations” and this post was the top of the list (I thought you might like to know that). I read several of your other post and I am looking forward to checking back to your site on a regular basis. Have a fantastic day.

  5. This is very timely as I’m about to write my first recommendation for a past colleague. One thing I’m struggling with is finding the sweet spot between being to terse vs to verbose!

  6. Hi Thomas,

    there are a couple of things I’d suggest:

    Read a couple of other recommendations (in your industry) and see what impresses you
    Be specific as it makes it credible
    Send a follow up mail to the recipient including that you are happy to edit it if they so desire
    If in doubt, keep it short. Remember the medium it will be read on, especially the Blackberry affect.

  7. Thank you, this was very informative!

    - Steven Burda
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/burda

  8. JobMob says:

    Gigantic Tips Guide for Finding Jobs With LinkedIn…

    How can LinkedIn get you a job fast? This guide will tell you everything you need to know.
    Quick Glossary

    Profile – the LinkedIn page describing you. The Public version is seen by anyone not signed in to LinkedIn and can be found by search engines.

  9. If you can, check with the person if there is a particular trait or brand element they want emphasised.

    A reader of a LinkedIn recommendation will most likely focus on one trait per recommendation, in the case of “Jason” he is an excellent communicator. Maybe Jason would value a recommendation on his consulting skills in addition to the many recommendations he has received for presentation skills.

  10. [...] a question I got recently about asking for LinkedIn Recommendations: I’ve taken time to leave recommendations for people in my network. I’ve left a recommendation [...]

  11. [...] Alba, founder of JibberJobber.com, provided excellent advice on the topic of writing a LinkedIn recommendation. Consider his advice before you write that next [...]

  12. [...] sure to check out Jason Alba’s post as well as Chris Brogan’s tips on writing LinkedIn recommendations. Hint – you’re not [...]

  13. [...] the recommendation specific, not general or vague.  Check out my advice on writing a good LinkedIn Recommendation [...]

  14. [...] my LinkedIn Profile is the closest thing I have to a current resume.  And I have around 60 LinkedIn Recommendations on my LinkedIn Profile… printing it off would clearly violate the “your resume MUST be [...]

  15. [...] is ESSENTIAL. Do this now, today! The best way to get good ones is to first give them. Learn how here. (An an aside, I recently counseled an unemployed manager who has failed to get a single [...]

  16. [...] and know that Clint is an awesome systems architect… why doesn’t he have more LinkedIn Recommendations?  I’d expect him to have at least 10 really awesome Recommendations.  Get to work on [...]

  17. [...] yesterday!), and know that Clint is an awesome systems architect… why doesn’t he have more LinkedIn Recommendations?  I’d expect him to have at least 10 really awesome Recommendations.  Get to work on [...]

  18. [...] regularly asked about the power and importance of LinkedIn Recommendations.  One issue that comes up has to do with one of my pet peeves: what to do when someone who you [...]

  19. [...] like with job references, you are essentially endorsing someone’s skills and character. You can write a recommendation for anyone in your network, or ask for recommendations from them. As part of your profile, these [...]

  20. [...] In my LinkedIn book I talk about writing LinkedIn Recommendations.  In my LinkedIn DVD I show you how to do it.  And on my JibberJobber blog I shared how to write excellent LinkedIn  Recommendations. [...]

  21. [...] You can get some tips from my blog post How To Write An Excellent LinkedIn Recommendation. [...]

  22. [...] them a real, glowing, value-add LinkedIn Recommendation. You can get some tips from my blog post How To Write An Excellent LinkedIn Recommendation. Want more LinkedIn training?  My video, LinkedIn for Job Seekers (not just for job  seekers) [...]

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