A New Alpha Approach to Getting Endorsements and Recommendations on LinkedIn

A New Alpha Approach to Getting Endorsements and Recommendations on LinkedIn

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This article is the third in a three-part series describing how to optimize your LinkedIn profile in order to accelerate your professional success. 

As outlined in Part I and Part II of this series, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for defining your professional identity and getting strategic professional exposure.

Two of the most valuable features that LinkedIn offers are the ability to get endorsed for your professional skills, and to get public recommendations for current and previous positions.

These two features provide credibility for the professional image that you’re presenting to the world. More than you simply claiming to have a certain skill set, your endorsements and recommendations indicate that other people, with whom you’ve worked, agree on your abilities and are willing to put their names and professional reputations behind you.

If you’re like most people, though, you probably don’t proactively manage this part of your LinkedIn profile—either because you’re too busy or aren’t sure how to appropriately ask people for their support—or maybe both.

If this sounds like you, then read on to learn more about how to graciously ask for endorsements and recommendations and to access sample email templates.

  • First select the three to five top skills for which you’d like endorsements, or that you want your recommenders to highlight. To make these skills more prominent and easy to find, drag them to the top of the “Skills and Endorsements” section on your profile. Be sure to delete any irrelevant skills from your profile, so that you don’t inadvertently gain endorsements for non-strategic skill areas. Don’t worry—you can always add them back in later if you change your mind.
Photo by See-ming Lee

Photo by See-ming Lee

  • Scan your network and make a list of the connections who you want to ask to endorse you; make another list of those who you think will give you strong recommendations. For both lists, strategically target people who know your target skill set well and who will likely want to help you. Don’t include anyone who you don’t know well, or who you think might feel annoyed by your request. (Don’t obsess over it—just trust your gut if you don’t feel comfortable asking someone.) For the written recommendations, aim for at least three, but be sure to add a few extra people to this list since some people may be too busy to reply.
  • Send each person an email through LinkedIn. Contacting people through LinkedIn, instead of regular email, makes it easier for them to quickly get to your profile and give the endorsement or recommendation. For ideas on how to craft your requests, download the samples included in this article. Don’t forget to personalize your emails where possible/appropriate—people notice this and remember you for it well into the future.
  • Never send a mass email asking for endorsements. This is tacky and amateurish. Plus, even though reaching out to your connections individually takes more time, people will appreciate the personal touch and you’ll get a higher response rate.
  • Thank people! Every time someone endorses you or writes you a recommendation, drop them a brief thank you on LinkedIn. Most of the time, people don’t get thanked for their recommendations, or especially for their endorsements, but since you’re proactively reaching out to ask for their support, a thank you is a great way to show that you appreciate their time and help—and people tend to remember unexpected thank yous…
  • Be sure to return the favor. Don’t forget to endorse the people who you are asking to endorse you. Also, you should write a recommendation for anyone who recommends you—unless their recommendation was unsolicited and you don’t feel comfortable recommending them.

On this note, never ask for a recommendation from someone whom you would not recommend. If you have any hesitation at all as to a person’s character or ability, then they are not someone who you want public support from (no matter how well known they are).

Wondering how to politely frame your email requests? Download these email templates to see what I sent out to a few of my close friends and supporters. Note that you should not simply copy what I wrote, which would be both unethical and unoriginal, but feel free to use these as a guide to make your even better—and I’d love to hear your tweaks and tips in the comments below!

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Danielle Harlan is the Founder and CEO of the Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential (www.leadershipandhumanpotential.com) and author of the leadership book, The New Alpha (amzn.to/29C0V6j). She earned her doctorate in political science and M.A. in education from Stanford University, where she was a Jacob K. Javits National Fellow and received a Centennial Teaching Award for excellence in instruction. Prior to launching the Center, she was the Chief of Operations for the Carnegie Foundation, where she worked to harness the power of networks and quality improvement strategies in order to solve important educational problems. Named one of Silicon Valley's "40 Under 40," Danielle has also been a speaker for TEDx and worked as an instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and U.C. Berkeley Extension's Corporate and Professional Development Program. In addition, she has given guest lectures at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the “d.school”) and the Career Development Center at Stanford, and has been featured in leading publications such as Fast Company, Forbes, and Women's Health. Danielle started her career as a Teach For America corps member and later served as a mentor and advisor for Global Leadership Adventures, an international leadership development and service program. In addition to teaching in the U.S., she has taught in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, and South Africa. She is a member of the International Leadership Association, the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, and the National Association for Female Executives.

  • Connie McCoy

    Leave reply
    August 1, 2014

    A great, helpful blog—Thanks!—I am learning a lot from it. The endorsement/recommendation tips along with the sample requests and templates are quite useful. I wıll be updating my LinkedIn profile soon and will be referring to these along with the advice from Part I and II.