How Not to Write a Recommendation on LinkedIn

I blame your teachers. Back in elementary school they told you you couldn’t read, couldn’t write, couldn’t sing, couldn’t do public speaking – any or all of these judgements. And you still believe them.

Now you have to write a recommendation for a former colleague on LinkedIn and you’re frozen like a deer in the headlights. Quickly and furtively you hunt for that list of competencies you were using during the last annual review. Your colleague is good person, and competent in her field. You want to make sure you plug all those great keywords into your recommendation for her, so you’ll sound knowledgeable and authoritative too.

Stop right there. Don’t go any further until you do this:
Go and look up one of your contacts you don’t know all that well, and read their recommendations.

Oh, look! Here’s a recommendation from Richard Roe:

“Geoff is an excellent go-to resource and I would recommend his services.”

Hmmn. I don’t know Geoff well, and I’ve never heard of Richard Roe. Richard didn’t seem to be able to dig up much to say. Maybe Geoff’s a know-it-all, but not that great as a worker. “Go-to resource” for exactly what? We don’t know.

Exactly what services did Richard get from Geoff? Work related? Too special to say?

Richard’s recommendation has done nothing to increase my confidence in Geoff. (And Heaven help Geoff if his LinkedIn profile is similarly vague: “Results-driven, go-to person with a positive attitude and excellent work habits…”)

A vague recommendation is worse than no recommendation. Prospective employers and partners use LinkedIn as way to get a clearer picture of you BEFORE they meet and engage with you. So the more specific and memorable your recommendations are, the better they work to pave the way for your first meeting.

Tomorrow I’ll give you the formula for How to Give a Great Recommendation In LinkedIn.

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