Every other week, On Small Business reaches out to a panel of young entrepreneurs for answers to some of the most pressing social media questions facing small business owners. The following responses are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of young entrepreneurs.

Q: What is the role of LinkedIn recommendations, and how should you go about requesting them properly?


What is the role of LinkedIn recommendations, and how do you ask for them properly? What do you do if the person doesn’t answer?

Derek Shanahan, co-founder of Foodtree in Vancouver, B.C.:

LinkedIn recommendations can be a powerful show of support for anyone who is looking to find a job or opportunity. They also prove very useful for those of us who hire — often, more useful than the work history that’s on a candidate’s profile.

Asking for them should be done in a way that lets the person you’re asking to recommend you know exactly what you’re hoping to get from the recommendation itself. Inform them of what you’d like the focus of the recommendation to be. If they don’t answer, it’s alright to follow up once or twice, but no more than that.

Brenton Gieser, co-founder of JoynIn in San Francisco, Calif.:

A quality recommendation on LinkedIn can be the difference between closing a new deal with a client or losing them to a competitor. Therefore, it’s essential to ask those whom you have a positive working experience with to recommend you on LinkedIn.

First, do incredible work. The foundation of all great recommendations is the work your produce. Second, identify those who rave about your work, products or services, and ask for the recommendation. If you’ve already delivered massive value to them, getting a quality recommendation from them on LinkedIn should be no issue. When identifying potential recommenders, think about who you want to read those recommendations, and match the reader and the person recommending you accordingly. For example, if you are a founder of a tech start-up that’s funding a Series A round, ask an entrepreneur with clout and connections in the venture space to recommend you.

Lastly, follow up if you don’t hear back; two to three days after the initial ask is a good rule of thumb. Make sure to offer to return the favor and write recommend for them — if you believe in their work.

Kevin Tighe II, co-founder and chief executive of INFLITE in Los Angeles, Calif.:

One of the best ways to validate yourself to others in the business world is through third-party endorsements. LinkedIn’s recommendation feature allows you to easily ask for endorsements and present them on your profile. Use these recommendations as a testament to what makes you great — your experience, industry knowledge, work ethic, etc. It may be your competitive edge in a hiring situation, or when a client is deciding between you and your competitor.

Before asking for a recommendation, make sure that it is appropriate and not completely unwarranted. LinkedIn allows you to send an automated message requesting an endorsement, but it is important to take a few minutes to add a personal message that politely asks for the recommendation and explains what you would like it to accomplish. The easier you make it for them to write the recommendation, the more likely you are to receive it.

If you do not receive a response from your request, don’t be offended. Send a direct e-mail to the person — request the recommendation and explain its importance in helping you accomplish your goals. Keep in mind that not everyone checks LinkedIn frequently; they may have not received your request or it may have slipped their mind.

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