By now you know I'm a big proponent of making the most of your LinkedIn. I've written about easy ways to elevate your professional profile -- even over your morning coffee, words to avoid, more words to avoid, how to tell your story and more. Today's LinkedIn topic: How to ask for recommendations.

The ideas is to have recruiters, would-be managers (or employees), clients and other important people in your professional life be able to read what others -- colleagues, past bosses, mentors and more -- say make you and your work special. 

You won't know if you don't ask. And chances are you won't get good response or helpful recommendations if you don't know how to ask. Here are some tips.

1. Know it's a two-step ask.

You'll first want to pick up the phone or email the person you'd like to make a LinkedIn recommendation and explain a little bit about why you selected them and what you'd like them to highlight -- a certain skill you have, a project you worked on together or how you earned their business or that big promotion. Then let them know to expect an official request to come from LinkedIn. 

That last part is important, because -- based on past experience -- people usually say "Of course! I'd be happy to. But how do I do that?" Lots of people don't use LinkedIn regularly enough to know the mechanics of things like writing recommendations. This is also why you are making this initial ask; it seems lots of people have their LinkedIn notifications turned or they ignore them. If you make your ask only through LinkedIn it might go unnoticed. (By the way, to officially request a recommendation start by clicking on "Ask for a recommendation" under the recommendations section of your profile.)

If someone has said they will write you a recommendation but weeks go by without word from them, you will need to nudge them and make sure they got your official request via LinkedIn.

2. Help them help you.

When you write a LinkedIn request asking for a recommendation, be specific about what you'd like your connections to write about you. Are you looking for them to talk up how well you led a cross-company project or the results you helped the firm achieve? Or, maybe you managed exceptionally well during certain business challenges. Or, maybe you an all around good fellow team member.

You could even provide a few sample sentences. Make sure those sample sentences are well thought out and grammatical as people will often take suggestions word for word. In fact, some busier, higher level managers and executives, might suggest you write their recommendation of you. I don't love this, but it's reality sometimes. Just make sure your connection understands that they will still have to upload the text into the recommendation request they got in their email.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for changes.

When you get a recommendation, LinkedIn allows you to review it and request changes before you publish it to your profile. You want your contacts to sound authentic, like themselves, so I wouldn't nitpick on word choice. But if something is spelled wrong or there's a grammatical mistake, it's fair to ask for a change. And if something is flat-out wrong, politely ask for that to be fixed. Again, be helpful by providing the suggested rewording.

4. Give back.

Either when you request a recommendation or after you receive one, it's always nice to offer to write one in return. I prefer offering upfront, because I like to help others and it makes asking or one easier, too.

The thing is everybody needs people who will champion their careers. It feels good to champion and be championed.

Published on: May 29, 2018