Asking for recommendations
Recommendations on LinkedIn are virtual versions of letters of recommendation you would normally ask for from someone on paper, although these types are much shorter. If you are a serious user of LinkedIn, meaning you do not just have a profile because everyone else does, but because you honestly want to network and create a professional image for yourself, then recommendations are a necessary part of being a member of LinkedIn. Recommendations are also a must if you want to use LinkedIn to find future jobs and internships. They give you more credibility and add a sense of completeness to your profile which is appealing to those looking at your profile.
You only want to ask for recommendations from people who know you well and can vouch for your skills and abilities, not someone you hardly know. Internship or work supervisors are great people to ask for recommendations, as well as professors whose classes you did exceedingly well in. The best time to ask for a recommendation is shortly after you worked with the person or took their class, although asking for recommendations later is also fine as long as you provide a refresher on who you are and why they would want to recommend you.
Be sure to provide a thorough explanation for why you are seeking a recommendation, whether you are looking for a job or internship, trying to improve your profile, or whatever your reasons may be. Just as you would do when asking for a typical letter of recommendation, you should remind the person what you accomplished while working for them or what skills you displayed that were noteworthy.
“You're not writing your recommendation for them, but merely serving to remind them about what you did for them so that they can paint a complete picture of you from memory,” said Neal.
If you ask someone for an actual letter of recommendation, discreetly ask if they might be willing to use an excerpt of it to recommend you on LinkedIn as well. The worst they can do is say no. Since we are talking about etiquette, one of the most important parts of asking for a recommendation on LinkedIn is to thank the person for taking the time to write one for you. Taking the time to do so will leave the door open for future opportunities, which can never hurt.
While tweeting what you are doing every five minutes is the new trend, I hate to break it to you, but your professional contacts probably do not care. Just like Facebook and Twitter, on LinkedIn you have the opportunity to post updates through the “Status Update” box on your profile, but beware, updates on LinkedIn should be treated significantly different than posting on other networking sites.
“The LinkedIn Status Update, while seemingly innocent, will post your update to your network in the News Feed on their Home Page,” warned Neal. “Since the majority of LinkedIn users used it before Facebook or Twitter, the current environment is one in which status updates no more than once a day are tolerated.”
Whatever you do, DO NOT link your Twitter account with your LinkedIn profile in a way that automatically posts every tweet to LinkedIn, especially if you tweet often. Status updates on LinkedIn should consist of positive information about your life that helps promote you professionally, such as updates about professional events you attended or projects you are working on for school, while blurbs about your tailgating plans for the weekend and how you loved the new episode of “The Jersey Shore” are not.
With these clarifications, you are now ready to fearlessly brave the seas of LinkedIn and use it to your utmost benefit!
Neal Schaffer, author of Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn