The Etiquette in LinkedIn Recommendations

With all of the changes happening on the LinkedIn platform, this one is a change on a much smaller scale. Be sure to check out Kurt Foedisch’s blog ‘More LinkedIn Changes… Recommendations’ for the changes you need to be aware of with this feature.

I was training this morning, when the topic of LinkedIn recommendation requests came up. Many of the questions were basic but nonetheless, excellent questions.

Many of you know that I write my blogs based on questions that come up in prospecting meetings, trainings, speaking engagements, networking events, and so forth. It seems fair to assume that if 1 person asks a question, then most professionals will have the same question. So, here are our recommendations to the most common questions asked about LinkedIn recommendations:

Who should I ask?

There are a number of different types of recommendations you can ask for, which means there are a number of different people in different relationships in your network that you can ask. And LinkedIn gives you those answers! You just have to be open to the suggestion. Most professionals automatically assume that recommendations come from past employers or current employers, and that’s it – or that’s as far as the thought has taken them. But there are so many other types of recommendations you can request. This is what the ‘Ask for Recommendations’ screen looks like:

The 3rd dropdown is ‘What’s Your Relationship?’ When you click on that you will see the following list of options:

  • You reported directly to your contact
  • You managed your contact directly
  • You were senior to your contact but didn’t manage directly
  • Your contact was senior to you but didn’t manage directly
  • You worked with your contact at the same group
  • You worked with your contact but at a different group
  • You worked with your contact but at different companies
  • You were a client of your contact
  • Your contact was a client of yours
  • Your contact was your teach
  • Your contact was your mentor
  • You and your contact were students together

It is my professional opinion with years of hiring experience & sales experience & operational experience, that recommendations should be multi-dimensional. What I mean by that is most employers and prospects look for professionals that are well rounded and come recommended by a number of different professionals with varying relationships. If you look at the list above, it’s guiding you to request recommendations from:

  • Your bosses (that’s the obvious one)
  • The people you managed
  • Professionals at your company that you impacted but didn’t manage directly. I call this a ‘lateral recommendation’
  • Co-workers
  • Business Partners
  • Clients
  • Teachers/ Student relationships
  • Mentor/ Mentee relationships
  • Referral Partners
  • And yes, fellow networkers and connectors.

Let me give you an example. An incredibly gifted sales executive in my network asked me for a recommendation when she was looking to make a move to another company. Since she never sold her services to me and I couldn’t vouch for her as a client, I was more than capable and willing to write a recommendation on her business development savvy, ability to connect the right people, and willingness to provide assistance to every single member of her network.

What do I say?

While it is a nice touch that LinkedIn provides us all with generic messaging for a number of functions, including recommendation request, I never recommend that you take advantage of that feature. I think the proper business etiquette includes taking the time to write an individual message to any/every valued member of your network. It’s all about the little things. Taking the time to customize a message indicates a little more care and attention with your network of professionals that you have worked so hard to maintain. Give them the respect of your time, especially if you are asking for theirs. Time is our most precious commodity so when someone elects to give you their time, it is an honor and should be treated as such.

Here’s an example of etiquette, the offer to save time for your contact, and keeping the spotlight out with a focus on your fellow professional:

Hi 1st Level Degree Connection,

I would be honored to display a recommendation from you on my LinkedIn Profile. Would you be so kind as to write a brief overview of my best attributes contributing to our professional relationship? I would be more than happy to provide you with a draft of a recommendation outlining key points if you prefer, which you can use or edit or completely disregard and compose on your own. I’d be more than happy to return the recommendation where I can vouch for your business acumen.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration! I look forward to your response.

Good networking,


This request addressed a number of roadblocks right off the bat:

  • Your focusing on your contact by relaying to them how much their word means to you.
  • Your offering to help write a draft that will help them focus on what you want to be recommended for, and saving them time by doing so.
  • Your offering to recommend them based on the type of relationship you have.

Best Practice: Only write about the attributes you can actually vouch for with each request. Sometimes you have to think outside the box and recommend other professionals based on the skill set within the relationship you have established. That means that recommendations must come from a number of various professionals with varying insight into your capabilities.

Also, ask for recommendations along the way. Don’t wait until you “need” them. You should be working on and in your network on a daily basis, which means giving people a reason to recommend you in the first place.

How many recommendations do I need?

As many as possible! I’ve never heard of someone in transition not getting hired because they had too many recommendations… or a prospect not signing with you because you have too many recommendations!

It’s all about process. Make recommendations an organic part of your process, just as earning them is an organic part of your process. Don’t forget to give recommendations where you can be impactful as well.


  • Be the first to give to your new business relationships
  • Always pay it forward
  • Network with purpose.

Good luck and good networking! Remember… It’s All About Leverage.

Contact Bobbie for more information on Social Selling training.  Don’t forget to check out our website for our suite of services!

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2 Topics:

Leveraging LinkedIn for Business Development

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About Bobbie

Bobbie specializes in helping executives as well as sales & marketing teams maximize client acquisition through the intersection of face-to-face networking combined with social selling techniques. Her customized programs and processes not only help in building the right network of prospects, clients, referral partners, and centers of influence, but also provide techniques to become thought leaders in their industry and stay top of mind with their targets.

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