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On LinkedIn And Recommendations

by David Brock on May 9th, 2013

Perhaps, some “guru” has just published something about the importance of LinkedIn Recommendations.  In the past week, I’ve gotten several requests from people for recommendations.  Here’s the bad part, they are people I don’t know!

Yes, they are connected with me, but other than what I read in their profiles, I don’t know them.  Some of you may argue, why did you connect with them if you didn’t know them–that’s fair, but I honor about 85% of the requests for connection.  There are some that just don’t look right, the open networkers, there are people who want to connect but haven’t done anything more than list their name and provided no profile–I don’t connect with anyone who hasn’t at least developed a pretty good profile.  But if the profile seems legitimate, the person doesn’t appear to be just “building their numbers,” I’ll generally connect.

Yet several people have approached me asking for recommendations, and I have never communicated with them–other than accepting the connection invitation.  I know nothing about them.  The last one put me over the tipping point, he was particularly “directive” about what I was to write in a recommendation.  I was tempted to respond:

Mr. So and So has had the balls to ask me for a recommendation.  I have never had any communication with Mr. So and So other than receiving his request to connect and a request for this recommendation.  I know nothing of his capabilities, his work, or whether anything in his profile is true.  I would tend to question the quality of any recommendation he has in his profile—some people are foolish enough to blindly reply to his requests.

He has the audacity to ask me to comment on the quality of his work and his capabilities.  Apparently, he can’t get legitimate recommendations, perhaps the quality of his work sucks!  So apparently, he approaches people he doesn’t know, who he has never worked with, and who know nothing of them to ask them for recommendations.

I do, however, want to be responsive to Mr. So and So in his outlandish and personally offensive request for a recommendation.  His sheer audacity says something–to me it’s nothing positive, but I thought it would be useful for people considering Mr. So and So to understand my perspectives, since he has asked me for them.

Recommendations are great, but they have to be earned and they have to be genuine.  Have people asked me for references?  Absolutely, and I have been happy to give them!  I’m not offended by the request, if I know and have had great experience with the person.  Usually, I give them unsolicited, but for some reason had an oversight and hadn’t provided one earlier.  I’m, in fact, flattered by these legitimate and deserved requests.  The recommendations I give are people who I have had great experience with, people who I truly respect, trust, and am pleased to provide recommendation.  They are people on who I am pleased to stake my personal reputation.

Providing a recommendation is an honor and a privilege.  Providing a recommendation should be done freely because you want to, without an expectation of receiving one in return.  I get huge pleasure in providing recommendations to clients, colleagues, friends.  Receiving a recommendation is an honor, a privilege, and something to be valued.

In some ways, perhaps naively, I view recommendations as one of the last domains of some level of profile integrity in LinkedIn.  As people rush to stack up endorsements and freely endorse people for whom they have no relationship, as people stack up connections (don’t get me on the topic of the free for all with “open networkers”) and manipulate key words and massive repetition in their profiles–recommendations, hopefully have some meaning.

I pay attention to people’s recommendation.  The quality of the recommendation is important.  Who they come from is important.  The number received is interesting, I’m not sure how important.  The number of recommendations a person has given is important to me—it tells me something about the quality of the person.

The “experts” talk about getting recommendations.  It’s odd they don’t talk about giving recommendations.  But isn’t a large part of networking about giving without the expectation of a return?

OK, I’ve said my piece, I’m off my soapbox.  Thanks for putting up with my tirade.

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  1. It wasn’t a “tirade,” Dave, it was an important take on a subject that needed airing. It was also quite entertaining, which, as you know, is the kind of writing I highly value, especially when it causes me to smile (chuckle a bit, too) all the way through the entire article. Well done!

    I saw that you checked out my linkedIn profile this week; hope it wasn’t related to this article. LOL!

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