Episode 171: September 20, 2012
by Lisa B. Marshall
A few weeks ago I bought an upright freezer and just last week I took some time to write a brief review of both product and the delivery service. I wanted to do my part to help others choose wisely. I know how much I’ve become dependent reviews—especially for big purchases.
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It’s no different when we are considering hiring a professional. Recommendations are becoming more and more common as are the requests to write them from colleagues. It’s really no surprise that how to write a better LinkedIn recommendation has become one of the most popular topics on The Public Speaker blog.
See Also: How to Write Recommendation Letters
Today, I thought I’d walk through an example LinkedIn recommendation by talking about a guy named Adam.
Adam is awesome. In fact, you find yourself dropping his awesomeness into conversations so often that you were all too happy to oblige when Adam asks you to write a LinkedIn recommendation for him. (Of course, you shouldn’t recommend people that you really can’t endorse.)
But how exactly do you create a LinkedIn recommendation that’s both helpful and well-written? Here's the one principle that guides every recommendation I write: Say something that only you can say.
What in the world does this mean? It means:
#1: Use Specific and Descriptive Verbs and Nouns
In fact, be as specific as possible. It’s probably a nice ego boost for Adam that you announced out to cyberspace how organized, courteous and responsible he is. He probably loves reading that you find him to be an irreplaceable member of your team. However, while Adam sits basking in the kudos-rich sun, none of accolades that landed him there are really helping him.
Why? Because none of these things actually say anything about him. For a guy who is so great, these types of recommendations blur him together with every other guy hanging out in the warm haze of forgettable clichés.
Do you really want people to know how organized, courteous and responsible Adam is? Try this:
“In my 20 years as a business owner, I’ve met few are as organized and responsible as Adam. He independently researched, purchased and launched our new 650-client database, bringing order to our chaos. Over the past two years the number of unsolicited client compliments resulting from his seamless, and sensitive handling of their transactions is now too high to count.”
Notice it follows a template: explicit endorsement, followed by specific and descriptive example, followed by quantitative result. Also notice it uses strong and specific nouns and verbs, and few fluffy adjectives. Instead of “He was our administrator,” the words were much more descriptive and powerful “he researched, purchased, and launched our new database bringing order to our chaos.”
It’s a good start. Let’s look more closely.
#2: Update Your Relationship Status
While it’s technically possible that every glowing recommendation can lead to new clients and new jobs, not all connections are created equal. For this reason, it’s important that you make very clear what your relationship is to Adam. In this case, “20 years as a business owner” and “over the past two years” were specifically included to communicate the relationship between the writer and Adam.
If you are a person of influence, your recommendation is going to carry an authority that someone else’s may not. Or, if you’ve worked directly with Adam for 12 years, your endorsement of his professional skills is going to be significantly more helpful to a potential employer than someone who worked with him for only a few months.
Is your relationship to Adam more of a personal than a professional one? Great! Don’t sell that relationship short. If you served on a charity board alongside Adam or if he coached your son’s soccer team, you have something very important to say about him. Although you may not be able to speak about his professional skills, you can certainly speak to his character. And character speaks loudly.
Now that you’ve written your recommendation, and you’ve made clear to the LinkedIn universe your specific connection to Adam, I have one final tip.
And it’s a big one.
See Also: How to Write Better LinkedIn Recommendations
#3: Be Judicious With CAPITALIZATION and Punctuation!!!
By a big one, I mean a big problem. Having grown accustomed to prolific texting and Facebook commenting, we’ve become a bit ridiculous in our need to emote absolutely everything. LinkedIn has historically been the stalwart holdout in terms of maintaining its professional audience and appearance, but I am beginning to notice more and more recommendations like this one:
“Adam is FABULOUS! He is hard-working, easy to be around, and a real team-player! I cannot recommend him highly enough!!! He’s AWESOME!!”
Aren’t you just exhausted listening to that? I don’t know about you, but I’m skeptical of anything quite so over-the-top. I immediately assume that someone not actually familiar with Adam’s professional qualifications has written a recommendation like that. Or possibly Adam’s mom. Sure, you should put some feeling into it, but unless Adam is seeking a long-term professional position as 7th grade president, keep the caps lock off and the exclamation points to a minimum.
So get busy writing your LinkedIn recommendations. By professionally including details unique to your experience and relationship you will in fact, help your colleagues to be selected because of their unique awesomeness.
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