LinkedIn Wreckommendations!

Posted on March 26, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Here’s the Deal………

I will write you a LinkedIn recommendation explaining to the world how good you are at what you do and in return you can write me one explaining to the world that I am the world’s best LinkedIn Trainer and that your business wouldn’t be as successful as it is if it wasn’t for me!

This way we are both benefitting – a true win/win – right?


(well, not the world’s best bit – the win/win bit!)

In fact this practice couldn’t be more wrong and yet it happens on a regular basis, I am sure you have at least seen it and maybe even been directly involved in it.

The fact is that this type of recommendation will do your professional reputation more harm than good – I call them WRECKOMMENDATIONS!

They generally fall into 4 types;

  1. A connection sends an unsolicited recommendation to someone they have never met or possibly even spoken to. This is a deliberate tactic designed to encourage the other user to recommend them in return and foolishly they write an equally insincere recommendation back.
  2. Two peer colleagues recommend each other for mutual benefit.
  3. A genuine recommendation is made by a connection of yours, LinkedIn encourages you to repay the compliment and because you don’t wish to offend them, you duly oblige. This recommendation is born out of a sense of duty rather than a genuine testimonial.
  4. Similar to 3 but on this occasion you genuinely wish to recommend the connection – you just hadn’t got around to doing it and their recommendation reminds you to do the same so you follow the process that LinkedIn encourages and recommend them back (see below).

Now let’s be clear about this ALL the above are WRECKOMMENDATIONS!

The worst type is clearly number 1, number 2 is just simply foolish, number 3 is well intentioned but equally foolish and number 4 is the least sinful but can be easily dismissed as being just as fake as the others.

Here are my tips to ensure that your recommendations have real impact;

  1. Only recommend people that you know AND rate. Never write anything that you don’t believe and can back up with real examples.
  2. Never be tempted to return a recommendation out of a sense of duty.
  3. Only accept (or show) and ask for recommendations from connections that fit the profile of the type of user that you are trying to attract. This will depend on what your objectives are – if you are looking for a job, ex bosses are good, if you are looking to find new customers then show recommendations from satisfied customers.
  4. Never write a recommendation in return for receiving one – whether genuine or not, at least not immediately (despite LinkedIn’s encouragement to do so). If you do all your first tier and their first tier connections will see the following on their home page;

Joe Bloggs has recommended Fred Smith swiftly followed by Fred Smith has recommended Joe Bloggs! (See example above – clearly a good, genuine pair of recommendations but the back to back timing creates doubt as to how genuine they are) When people see this they are likely to dismiss both recommendations as being insincere (no matter how genuine they actually are). If someone  recommends you and you genuinely wish to recommend them back then you should send them a message thanking them for their testimonial and explaining that you intend to write them one as well but that (for the above reasons) you will do this in a couple of weeks (don’t forget to make a note in your diary!)

Recommendations can be the most powerful section of your LinkedIn profile. A genuine testimonial from a credible source can have a huge impact. Don’t forget that every time someone recommends you ALL of their 1st tier connections are notified and ALL of yours! Imagine the positive impact this can have.

Unfortunately one bad one can ruin the rest, when I see a recommendation that fits into one of the above 4 categories I automatically assume that all their other recommendations will be the same.

Treat your recommendations with respect and they will pay you dividends.


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6 Responses to “LinkedIn Wreckommendations!”

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Mark, thank you for this post!

I think it was time that somebody talked about the “recommendations frenzy”. I recently attended an event in Switzerland where corporate HR people stated that for them LinkedIn recommendations were completely worthless (“Nobody gives bad recommendations”).

I wouldn’t go that far and still think that recommendations can be a great tool. But your advice will help using them more wisely.

Btw, could you please write me a recommendation 😉

Great post as I would expect from you. I tend not to look at recomendations paticularly when there are 100’s listed or they are clearly quid-pro-quo.
The best one I recieved was from michelle Fischer because it was unexpected and out of the blue following #trulondon 1. I don’t think it will make any difference business wise but it was unsolicited and came out of the blue. I think this has the most value as a thank-you rather than a mutual back slap. I know it left me with a lasting memory.

I have NEVER asked for a recommendation, those on my profile are what have been sent to me without requesting them. I only give out recommendations that are sincere. I tend to ignore recommendations on profiles due to the reasons you give.

Thanks for the comment Mark. I actually don’t have any issue with asking for recommendations – provided you are asking the right person i.e. someone who has direct experience of working with you (as a customer, supplier or colleague) and only ask them if you are confident that they are impressed with you. In fact this is a good question to ask yourself about all of your current customers – Would it be appropriate to ask them for a recommendation and if not, why not?!
It is fantastic to receive an unsolicited recommendation but not everyone would always think of writing one without being asked and I don’t believe requested ones are any less valuable. What really matters is who wrote it and what they wrote.

I actually take more notice of the ones that have few than the ones that have a lot. Also, I look at the seniority and relationship to that connections that has made the recommendation.There’s the optimum number scenario, which i also apply with connections. A few quality recommendations that seem genuine are more likely to register than several where it’s obvious the person has been on an invitation spree to their contacts.

Thanks Nick,
I agree that genuine recommendations are the only ones you should get but I disagree that this number should be limited. Surely every individual circumstance is different – I know a trainer (not me!) who encourages every delegate on his courses to recommend him – provided they are suitably impressed. He considers this to be of much greater value than a post course ‘tick the box’ feedback form and I would agree with him. He trains on average about 50 delegates every month and about 30% write him a recommendation on LinkedIn. The recommendations are from customers and clearly demonstrate the quality of what he does – he has over 150 of them now but they all read well and seem very genuine.
Don’t forget that every time you receive a recommendation from someone, all of your connections as well as all of their connections are notified of this on their homepage! – this is a great way to spread a very positive message about what you do.

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