LinkedIn Recommendations 101, with Viveka von Rosen

Listen On:

Transcript

Find Your Dream Job, Episode 117:

LinkedIn Recommendations 101, with Viveka von Rosen

Airdate: December 13, 2017

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-hosts, Ben Forstag, Becky Thomas, and Jessica Black, from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about how to get and give LinkedIn recommendations.

Recommendations are a vital part of your LInkedIn profile. Readers will more likely trust what you say about your skills and your accomplishments if you include testimonials from others. Our guest expert this week is author Viveka von Rosen. Later in the show, Viveka explains why LinkedIn recommendations are so powerful and how to make the most of them.

Before you buy a product or service, you probably check online reviews. What people say about a company plays a big part in our purchasing decisions these days. The same principle applies in a job search.  Ben has a found a blog post that shows how to use online recommendations and other social proof to get job interviews. He tells us more in a moment.

Many jobs may require experience you don’t have. How do you get that experience without having done the job? That’s our question of the week. It comes from a listener in Portland named Daniel . Becky shares her advice shortly.

First, as always, let’s check in with the Mac’s List team.

We turn to you, Ben, because you’re out there every week searching the nooks and crannies of the internet looking for websites, books, and tools our listeners can use in a job search and their careers. What have you found for our listeners this week?

Ben Forstag:

This week as I was preparing for the show, I spent a lot of time thinking a lot about why recommendations really are so important in a job search. Because on one level, they seem like such pro-forma things. Something that everyone can find someone who will say something nice  about you, so how enlightening can a recommendation really be?

But at the same time, there’s an undeniable power to social proof.

So I decided to dig into this a little deeper and I was looking for some article that would say, “Here’s the science behind social proof, or recommendations, and why they work.” But what I came across instead was an interesting anecdote. It comes from the website Ninjas and Robots.

Mac Prichard:

Great title.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, best website ever. The title of the article is called “Using the science of influence to look for a new job.”

It’s by this guy named Nathan Kontne, who’s a computer engineer and an entrepreneur. He’s one of these tech guys who has started a half dozen different companies, and shows up on Ted Talks and stuff like that.

Anyway… this is an older post, it’s from 2012, where Nathan talks about his wife’s successful job hunt and how she used social proof to get interviews.

So it’s a really simple thing; she gathered up all of the recommendations people had written about her on LinkedIn, as well as some really positive reviews she had received from employers and clients. These were very specific comments, it wasn’t like, “Oh she’s a nice lady”, but, “She did a great job with this project.” Or, “She got the budget in on time.” Very task oriented recommendations. She just listed all of these recommendations on a piece of paper and attached it with her application materials. It was just another piece of paper.

Now… I gotta admit, this sounds a little bit brash to me, but it evidently really worked. That’s because social proof is this really powerful influence over behavior. It’s not even a conscious influencer a lot of times.

Mac Prichard:

It’s striking, as you speak, Ben. The thought that went through my mind when you were talking about what she did is what experts recommend people do with their resume. Which is, don’t talk about your roles and responsibilities, talk about your accomplishments, the results you produced. It sounds like she didn’t collect testimonies that said she was a wonderful person but, “This is what she did for me.”

Ben Forstag:

Exactly, it wasn’t like glowing character references. I think those are important too, but it was very tactical. I think the thing to remember here is how subconscious this is, the influence of this social proof. Because again, when I hear about this, I think, “Oh everyone could do that.” But the bottom line is that everyone doesn’t do it. The truth is that all these social science studies show that if the four of us went downstairs and pointed up to the sky like we were looking at something, we could probably get other people convinced that they saw something up in the sky as well.

Social proof has this very strong influencing factor on people and sometimes it’s just listing, “Here’s what other people think.” That has a really strong influence on the hiring manager. This is the same reason that why almost everywhere you go, to any website to buy something, there’s always recommendations from past clients or other folks who have bought the product. Stunning reviews on the cover of books, these things really work.

So in addition to talking about this social proof influencer, Kontne (the writer), also talks about some other subtle ways to persuade employers, including things like reciprocity and anchoring. Let me just discuss those very quickly here.

Reciprocity is one we talk about a lot on the show without ever really using that word. But basically it’s just giving the employer something of value–a suggestion on how they could improve the product, an article you thought they might like, or a review of the podcast, anything that like. The idea here is that if you give one human being something, they’re much more obliged, or to feel like they’re obliged, to give you something in return. In this case, it’d be their time to show you that you’re the right candidate.

He also talks about anchoring, which is an interesting one. I’m not sure if we’ve ever actually talked about this strategy. This is more of a job salary negotiating tool. Where if you establish a  baseline number, you can reframe the entire conversation around this.

He actually mentioned a really interesting study…this is completely off topic. But if you take a group of people and ask them two questions; the first question is, “What is your social security number? The last four digits of your social security number?”, and then “How much do you think that car is worth over there?”, when people say their social security number, and the last four digits are higher, they almost always evaluate a higher price for the vehicle. If it’s lower, they evaluate a lower price. That’s because in their mind, they’re anchoring a higher number early on. That influences all subsequent conversations.

So his point was, you can anchor a salary negotiation around like, “Oh I know this guy over here is making a hundred thousand dollars, but I only want ninety.” That could make the employer who was only planning on paying you eighty pay you a little more.

This is really interesting, it was a long form article, it’s definitely worth going into and reading on your own.

Jessica Black:

It was really interesting. I really appreciated a lot of his perspectives on it, in terms of talking about everybody looking at the sky, and why the psychology of that is so compelling. But then her tactics of using that. To put that into a job interview, instead of using references available on request, which is a pretty typical standard that we use.

Ben Forstag:

And means almost nothing.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, and everybody writes that. Like you were saying, Ben, everyone has references and everyone can find someone that will say something nice about them. But going into a job interview with an additional piece of paper attached to your resume, with a couple of testimonials about your quality and your value…I’d be interested to see that in person. I’ve never actually experienced that. It obviously worked for her, but I would love to hear from someone that I know that has done it as well. I think that that’s also a little bit bold of a choice, but I think it can also really work.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, I think it’s really interesting, because I read a lot of articles written by people who are career experts, like that’s what they do for a living. Nathan, who wrote this article, he’s not a career guy, he’s a computer engineer, and looking at the challenge of a job search from a data and psychological kind of view is interesting.

Jessica Black:

Very interesting.

Ben Forstag:

So I would encourage you to check it out. Again, it’s on the website NinjasandRobots.com, and the article’s name is “Using the science of influence to look for a new job.”

Mac Prichard:

Great, well thank you, Ben. If you’ve got a suggestion for Ben, please write him. We would love to hear from you, and use your idea on the show. Ben’s address is ben@macslist.org.

Now, let’s turn to you, our listeners. Becky’s here to answer one of your questions. Becky, what’s in the Mac’s List mailbag this week?

Becky Thomas:

Let’s open up the old mail bag.

Mac Prichard:

It’s becoming a tongue twister.

Becky Thomas:

This week, we have this question that we recorded from our recent event that we had here in Portland. A networking event. So let’s take a listen:

“Hi, my name is Daniel and my question is, pretty much every job I look at, in the requirements, they want you to have pretty much already done the job. I’m just wondering how you gain enough experience so that you don’t have to have already done every job you apply for.”

So, this is a good question, I think a lot of people feel this sort of, “I’m not qualified enough to get the job, so how am I supposed to get the experience to get the job in the first place?”

Jessica Black:

Catch 22, yeah.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, it’s a challenge. So I know a lot of people have this, especially if you’re new to the job world, if you’re a recent grad or something like that. Or if you’re changing careers and you’re like, “How do I get experience?”

I think the first thing to keep in mind, and I think especially if you’ve been applying for jobs for a long time, it’s really frustrating to read all of those requirements and be like, “How is that even possible?” Just know that job descriptions are a wish list. Most employers don’t expect you to fulfill all of those requirements. If you can get over halfway there you can probably fill in the rest with other things. Keep that in mind as a baseline, that employers are, “Oh, I’d love to have this, I’d love to have that. That would be great.” But they’re going to be willing to compromise on some of these things.

The second thing to think about is to really be able to know and understand your own skills. You need to be able to really talk about your core value as a professional, what you bring to the table of any job. Have examples to back that up. So that’s something that you need to do on your own, and before you’re going on interviews and applying for jobs, you need to get that understanding of yourself as a professional. Being able to talk about it in a clear way.

But as far as tactics go, like I said, if you’re new to the job market or switching fields, there are some things you can do to get more experience.

So the first thing is to…I feel like I talk about this a lot, but you need to be able to position your transferable skills for the role that you want. For example, if you’re a recent college grad, look at the recent summer jobs that you’ve had, the work-study jobs that you’ve had in college, and extracurricular experience. That can be transferred into a base skill that you can use for a lot of other jobs. For a career change, if you’re changing fields, just really get down and nail down the value in your previous experience and relate that value to the job at hand.

Then the other thing that I’ve had success in and I know a lot of other folks have to is, to volunteer to gain relevant experience. Whether you’re doing a weekend volunteer project with a nonprofit. You could do an unpaid internship. Another thing to think about if you’re currently working and don’t have a lot of free time…a lot of professional organizations will work with a nonprofit or community organization and match professionals in the field with those nonprofits that need services. That gives you a time-limited project but it also gives you a clear deliverable, if you’re putting together some sort of plan for a nonprofit and you’re working with other professionals. That’s a great way to network too.

Those are some resources. So just keep in mind, do what you can, and know yourself. Really get creative as far as your own experience. Yeah, that’s the advice I have. As I was making this list of advice for Daniel, I remembered that we have a blog on the Mac’s List blog with a lot of the same resources.

Jessica Black:

Nice.

Mac Prichard:

Great advice.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

Any advice guys?

Jessica Black:

Yeah, no, I was going to say, so I’m going to reiterate it. I wasn’t going to use the term transferable skills but I like that a lot. I was going to say, more of the, demonstrating how you’re capable of doing the job with the previous experience you’ve had. Whatever you’ve done in your past positions…demonstrating how that sets you apart from other people, and how it will transfer into this current job, and how you’re capable and qualified and how you bring value to the table there.

I like your point about getting a little bit creative about that, because I think that it’s not always a one to one transfer, or substitute, or however it is. However it shakes out that way, but using what you’ve done in the past to show…because I don’t think that you necessarily have to have done the exact job to still be qualified for this new job. So making sure that you can weave the story together to demonstrate that what you’ve done in the past is relevant and can set you apart.

Maybe even set you above some of the other candidates that haven’t done the things that you’ve done. How can your previous experiences bring you into that new role?

Ben Forstag:

Just to build off of the idea that job descriptions are wish lists. I think you also have to keep in mind that you are still at a disadvantage if you don’t check off enough of those boxes compared to candidates who do that. That’s why I think networking becomes really important because the more someone knows you as a person, as a professional in general, the easier it is to talk around, or get over, that challenge of not being able to check off all of the boxes in terms of qualifications.

I think employers forget this, but I think they also know that this is true. You can teach people a lot of different skills, and even if someone knows how to web design one way, an employer may well want to reteach you how to web design their way. So coming into the job with experience is important, but not like a be all, end all.

So again, I think if you network, if you get yourself out there in general, when these opportunities come around, you’re going to have a much stronger hand applying for them, even if you aren’t the “perfect candidates” in terms of qualifications.

Becky Thomas:

Yep.

Mac Prichard:

Well great, and I would only add, Becky, we’ve used this resource before on the show or mentioned it, and you touched on it at the start. Which is that most employers are looking to get sixty to seventy percent and so many applicants forget that. There’s also research out there that shows that men that don’t have a high percent of qualifications are still likely to apply for a job if they’ve got fifty, to sixty, to seventy percent, and women aren’t.

So recognize, as you said, that employers don’t expect to get everything, and think about how you can fill in those gaps.

Becky Thomas:

Yep. Thanks.

Mac Prichard:

Great, well thank you, and thank you, Daniel. If you have a question for Becky, send her an email; her address is becky@macslist.org. You can also call our listener line, that number is, area-code 716-JOB-TALK. Or send us a tweet. Just find Mac’s List on Twitter and our handle is @macs_list.

If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere.

We’ll be back in just a moment. When we return, I’ll talk with this week’s guest expert, Viveka von Rosen, about How to Get (and Give) LinkedIn Recommendations.

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Viveka von Rosen.

Viveka von Rosen is co-founder of Vengreso, the world’s largest full-spectrum social selling provider. She’s also the author of two best-selling books, LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and LinkedIn: 101 Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand.

She joins us today from Loveland, Colorado.

Viveka, thanks for being on the show.

Viveka von Rosen:

Absolutely, it is my pleasure to be here.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, well it’s a pleasure to have you.

Our topic this week is, of course, LinkedIn, and we are focusing in on recommendations.

Viveka von Rosen:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, so you know, recommendations are a form of social proof. Let’s step back and talk about social proof. What is it and why does it matter in a job search or in our careers?

Viveka von Rosen:

Well I think that now more than any other time, people can pretty much say anything they want about themselves online. So I can get on LinkedIn and call myself a LinkedIn expert. I could get LinkedIn expert of Colorado.com. There are a lot of ways that I can buy, beg, or borrow expertise in my industry without really earning it. I think the validity of a good recommendation is that it is true credibility. It is other people saying that you’ve actually achieved this level of knowledge, or expertise, or positioning, or whatever it is you’re trying to establish.

So I just think it brings a lot more validity to the claim of your skill set, your area of expertise.

Mac Prichard:

Well let’s talk about LinkedIn recommendations. These are those testimonials that appear next to our job descriptions on our LinkedIn profiles. They’re different than, I think it’s called, Skills and Experiences.

Viveka von Rosen:

Endorsements, yes.

Mac Prichard:

Endorsements.

Viveka von Rosen:

Exactly, so you have skills, and then people can endorse you for those skills. It’s really no more than like, a Facebook ‘like’, whereas the recommendation is a longer form testimonial that someone actually takes the time and makes an effort to write out. Like we would see on a website or in an recommendation letter, it’s someone actually taking the time to talk about you and why you’re so good at what you do.

Mac Prichard:

So what kind of difference can a LinkedIn recommendation make to your page and to your job search?

Viveka von Rosen:

l I think it can make a substantial difference for a lot of different reasons.

First of all, it’s kind of a lost art. People are lazy, and so they don’t think to ask for, or give recommendations. So if you have them, it can really differentiate you from say, the other person who’s looking for the exact same job that you’re looking for. But you’ve got all of these recommendations from previous employers, from your professors at your school, from colleagues, from happy clients.

Now I’m saying with with a caveat; there are some industries, financial, legal, and medical, where there constraints as to what you’re allowed to share, so just be aware of that. If you’re in the financial industry, if you’re in medical, or if you’re in legal industry, please be aware of some of the different constraints and conditions that you might have. Compliance issues that you might have.

But in most cases, if you’ve got a previous employer, and a previous client, and a colleague saying you’re awesome, why you’re awesome, and giving some examples of why you’re awesome, it’s really going to differentiate you from somebody who doesn’t have anything on their profile. Or it says, “He’s nice,” or “She’s nice.”

Now I say it’s a lost art because LinkedIn has made it a lot more difficult to give and get recommendations, especially if you’re new to LinkedIn. You used to be able to just go to linkedin.com/recs/ask. Or you used to be able to scroll down to the bottom of your profile, and very easily see where the recommendations were and ask for them. But on people who are newer to LinkedIn, you might not see that option, and you might not know where to go to get these recommendations.

So again, glad you’re listening, if you go to a person’s profile that you want the recommendation from, first of all, you have to make sure that you’re first level connections, meaning that you have invited them to connect at some point and they’ve accepted, or they’ve invited you and you’ve accepted. But you have to be first level connections.

Then basically to the right of their picture, you’ll see three little dots, whether you’re on mobile or desktop. Then from those three dots, you have the option of either requesting a recommendation or even recommending that person. Which is something else we’ll talk about in just a moment.

So that is where you go in and ask for that recommendation. I think the reason you don’t see as many recommendations on LinkedIn is that people just can’t find that one little link because it’s not very obvious anymore.

Mac Prichard:

I appreciate you sharing all of that and the clarity of those instructions, because I don’t think I’m alone in this, sometimes LinkedIn is just not intuitive and can be difficult to navigate.

Viveka von Rosen:

No, definitely. As with all social media sites, they try to simplify the user interface and make it more attractive, and they’ve tried to align the desktop user interface a little bit more with the mobile version of it. But in doing so, they’ve gotten rid of a lot of features, or the ability to find certain features. There used to be a drop down in profile where you could ask or give recommendations. Well the only way now is those three little dots, or if you already have recommendations or have given recommendations. You can also go to that section.

But the three little dots are just to the right of the person’s name on their profile. That’s the easiest way to find that section.

Mac Prichard:

So we know where to go and the difference that a good recommendation can make to a LinkedIn page. How many recommendations do you suggest people collect? How many, say, per position?

Viveka von Rosen:

I’d say per position, two or three. It just spaces them out pretty nicely. Now if you’re newer to the job market, or you’ve switched industries completely, you might want to make it a little more top heavy. You might want to get three to five, in your first or second, or third experience listed.

For job seekers who are looking for a job, but also they’re maybe doing some contract, consulting work, you can definitely add that as an experience. Add that into your experience sections, then most definitely, I would recommend getting some recommendations for that as well. As long as it’s aligned with the job you’re actually looking for. If you are doing consulting in architecture, and you’re looking for a legal position, that might be a little bit askew. But if you are a consultant and you’re looking for a position, you’ve got those recommendations in your recent, current, and past experience.

It looks better, it’s easier to find, those recommendations are easier to find and read. By the way, it makes your profile more searchable. So we can talk about best practices in just a moment, having those keywords, those search terms actually in the recommendations themselves makes your profile more findable, when say, someone in HR, a hiring manager, or a business owner is looking for a candidate, or an employee.

Mac Prichard:

Well let’s talk about the strategy of recommendations, who we should ask, and what we should ask them to say. Who’s at the top of the list here, if we’re aiming to get two or three per position? Who are the best people to ask for those recommendations?

Viveka von Rosen:

Well certainly past employers, provided you left on a good note. If not, you might skip them, that kind of goes without saying. Similarly, if you’re new to the job market, you just graduated, you can get a professor to write a recommendation for you. If you’re in marketing that probably won’t be a problem, your professors are probably telling you to get on LinkedIn right now. It might be a little more difficult in situations where your professors plain and simple don’t use LinkedIn or are unwilling to connect with you on LinkedIn.

Like I mentioned before, happy clients. Again, not unhappy clients. But if you can get a recommendation from a happy client, that always looks good. Colleagues, of course, that looks good. Influencers in your industry if you happen to know, and somewhat regularly engage with, an influencer in your industry.

I sometimes get people I have no idea who they are asking me for recommendation. Not only am I not going to give it, I’m going to disconnect from that person too. So make sure that you actually know the people that you’re asking to get a recommendation from. You might need to remind them who you are, and we’ll talk about best practices in just a second, but you might need to remind someone how they know you. Because you know, these days we have a whole bunch of people, through social and engagement, we have a whole bunch of people running through our lives. So it never hurts to remind people.

Getting one from your massage therapist is probably not going to be overly helpful, getting one from, “He’s nice, she’s nice”, isn’t extremely useful. The more comprehensive the recommendation is, the better it looks, the better it reads, and the more likely it is to help your profile get found in a search as well.

Mac Prichard:

I’m guessing family members are probably not the most effective.

Viveka von Rosen:

Yeah, oh yeah. Uncles, aunts, nieces, exactly.

Mac Prichard:

Right.

Viveka von Rosen:

“She cleaned her room regularly as a child.”

Mac Prichard:

Well there’s some merit to that. But again, you’ve only got a couple of recommendations ideally, per position, so you want to make the most out of those limited opportunities.

Viveka von Rosen:

Exactly.

Mac Prichard:

Alright. Well that’s the who. Now let’s talk about the what and the how. You’ve identified a list of people, for past positions, or time at university or college, that you can approach. What’s the best way to make the ask? What’s the strategy behind that? What do you want to say and how do you go about doing it?

Viveka von Rosen:

Sure, absolutely. So the first thing to do is, making sure of your first level connection. Sometimes asking or giving a recommendation is a great opportunity to connect. Like I said, in some cases, especially with professors and I have no idea why this is, “I don’t connect with my students.” So you know, okay.

But in many cases when you reach out to connect with someone or ask them for a recommendation, you’ll see that they’re not a first level connection, so you can just click on the connect button. Now if you’re on mobile, similarly to what we were talking about before, if you hit ‘connect’ it’s just going to send the invitation, you’re not going to get to personalize it. On the desktop, you can always personalize it by clicking connect. So if you are more mobile savvy, the same place, those three little dots. It’ll say ‘personalize invitation’.

So in both cases, personalize the invitation by saying something like, “Hey, Person that I used to work with, I’m building out my LinkedIn profile. I’m listening to this podcast and I’m realizing that I’ve dropped the ball as far as recommendations. We had a great working relationship together, so I was hoping you’d be willing to connect so I can ask you for a recommendation.” Or similarly, “We worked together and I’d love to give you a recommendation, but in order to do so, we need to connect first.”

So using the recommendation as a reason to connect. Now if you’re already connected and you go to the three little dots beside their name and ask for the recommendation, don’t go with just the default, because LinkedIn is going to put some default language in there. Again, remind them how you know each other, remind them of the work you did.

Even give them some bullet points as far as what to speak about. “Can you speak about my timeliness? Can you speak about my knowledge? How well I work with clients? My ability to code?” Whatever it is that you do. You can even give them some talking points. It makes it much easier for them to write the recommendation for you. You’re going to get a better recommendation. In some cases, people know you, love you, you know they’re going to write a great recommendation no matter what, so you can just say, “Hey, I need a recommendation on LinkedIn. You know what to say, go for it.”

But in most I would say, in many cases, in most cases, give them some talking points. Give them some bullets to mention. Obviously change them up, you don’t want the exact same bullets showing up on every single recommendation. That’s going to look a little obvious. So you could change that up a little bit.

Then there are people who have probably already written you a recommendation or a testimonial. You might have a website with testimonials on it. Even if you’re a job seeker, it’s possible, again you do some consulting or contract work so you have your own website. You can always find those people on LinkedIn and tell them, “You wrote this wonderful testimonial for me on my website, a few years ago, ten years ago, two months ago. I’m trying to get them all on LinkedIn too. Would you be willing to write it on LinkedIn? Here’s what you originally wrote”, copy, paste.

So that’s definitely something to consider if someone has already written you a testimonial, either online or for a previous job, etc. As long as it’s still relevant to what you do now. Who you are, and what you do now.

Then there are some people who you know are super busy. They won’t be offended, write the recommendation for them. “Hey Jane, we worked together for years and I know how busy you are. We often talked about ‘something’. So I was hoping you’d be willing to write me a recommendation based on our past conversations. I put something together for you, please feel free to use it yourself. Please feel free to use it, or write something unique.” Copy, paste. You basically want to make it as easy as possible for people to write you that recommendation.

Mac Prichard:

I’m glad you brought that up, about making it easy for people to say yes, because I think often, people use the default form to send off the request. They are puzzled and sometimes hurt that they didn’t get a response. So the thing you can control is, you can either put together bullets, or talking points, or in some cases draft recommendations. That makes it so much easier for the person on the other end to help you.

The only other thing I would add is, I love your suggestion about testimonials. Often we receive thank you notes from clients, or colleagues, or supervisors.

Viveka von Rosen:

That’s a great idea.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and I think it’s perfectly legitimate to say at that time, “Hey, would you mind adapting this for a LinkedIn recommendation?” When someone gives you a thank you like that, my experience has been, they’re more than happy to say it publicly as well.

Viveka von Rosen:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Well great.

Viveka von Rosen:

Exactly. I love that recommendation, actually. That’s a great recommendation for recommendations.

Mac Prichard:

So we know who we should reach out to and what we might ask them to do. But if you don’t hear back, after you’ve done all of those things, sent off the bullets or the drafts. What are your suggestions about following up? How should people follow up?

Viveka von Rosen:

Yeah, follow up on a different medium. So it is entirely possible that the person you asked for a recommendation from has never once gone into their inbox. They just plain and simple didn’t see it. So you might follow up with them a week later, even just a couple days later, and say, :Hey”, probably via email. Certainly for those of you who remember to use a phone, you can always pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I sent you a request for a recommendation a couple of days ago on LinkedIn. I noticed you hadn’t had a chance to look at it or to do it yet. I just wanted to A) make sure that you got it, B) make sure that you are aware of it, and C) make sure you’re okay with it.”

Because some people might be, “Yeah, I saw that, and I’d love to send you a recommendation, but you know, due to some compliance issues I’m not allowed to. Or due to the fact that you work with a competitor, I’m not allowed to.” Or due to whatever. So they might not be willing to say that for some reason on LinkedIn, but on the phone or on LinkedIn they might tell you the real reason.

But generally, if someone does not write a  recommendation for you, it’s because they plain and simple did not see your request.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up as well, because I think many of us will check our email a number of times every day. But we might check our LinkedIn…there are LinkedIn nerds like you and I and my co hosts, but most people might not check their LinkedIn accounts more than several times a month. They might not see it.

Viveka von Rosen:

Additionally…and it’s better now, but for a long while it was super awkward to give and get recommendations because LinkedIn would just send you a link, it wouldn’t take you anywhere. You just didn’t know what to do, you were like, “Okay, now what am I supposed to do?” So if you tried giving or asking for recommendations. Say, three, four months, to a year ago, and nothing happened with it, just be aware that LinkedIn was a little difficult for a while there. So go try again.

Mac Prichard:

Well how important is it to give recommendations ourselves? How do you recommend people approach that?

Viveka von Rosen:

Yeah, so I think a lot of people give to get, and I don’t know that that’s necessarily the best overall strategy. Like “I’m going to give five hundred recommendations, so I get one hundred back.” The problem with that is that it’s very time consuming and people can see that. They can see the ratio of given to received. Of course you always want your received to be more than your given. So just be aware of the ratio.

However, having said that, there are times when you might most definitely want to give a recommendation, because as I mentioned in the beginning of this podcast, it gives you the opportunity to connect with someone, because you want to write them a recommendation.

Of course, if there’s someone and you’re just so blown away by them or by their company, definitely give a recommendation. Because it shows you as being a genuine and interested individual and not necessarily just a taker. It can help to align you with a person’s brand; maybe there’s an influencer that you admire. You happen to be several first connections on LinkedIn, you’ve seen her speak, or you’ve read his books. Please feel free to give them a recommendation too, because it stands out far and above anything else you can really do for them on LinkedIn. Yes, you could send them a message, but they may or may not see it. Yes, you can like their articles, or share their content but they may or may not get notified. But they are very likely to see if you write a recommendation for them.

But again, don’t write a bunch of recommendations just in the hopes of getting in touch with that person. There has to be genuine intent.

Then having said all that, just keep the ratio more received than given.

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. Well tell us, what’s next for you?

Viveka von Rosen:

Yeah, lots, and lots. We’ve got a new company Vengreso. Lots happening with that. We’re very much in the social selling, digital transformation sphere. Which is, by the way, as a job seeker, not everyone needs to be involved in the whole digital transformation arena. But as far as making sure you’ve got a strong brand online while you’re looking for a job, and in some cases, some of you creating content in order to really elevate yourself as an expert…

So there’s two ways that you can really position yourself as an expert is have other people call you an expert, hence recommendations and endorsements. The other thing is showcase your expertise by sharing valuable content, that…like I said, showcases your expertise.

So with Vengreso, we’ve got a bootcamp we do about once a quarter, that walks you through all of the stages of being successful on LinkedIn. From creating a strong brand with your profile, to finding the right people to engage with, employers, gateway people at companies that you want to work with, to creating really good content. Then pulling that all together to really amp up your engagement.

Mac Prichard:

Well I know people can find you at your website, which is Vengreso.com, and we’ll be sure to include a link to your website, as well as your books, and also mention your book camps in the show notes.

Viveka von Rosen:

Yep. Awesome, thank you.

Mac Prichard:

Well thanks so much for joining us this week.

Viveka von Rosen:

Absolutely, my pleasure.

Mac Prichard:

Take care.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with Becky, Ben, and Jessica. What were some key points you all heard in my conversation with Viveka?

Becky Thomas:

I thought her energy was great, loved listening to her tips.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah it was.

Jessica Black:

Great, great, yeah.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah. I like that she did give us some step by step, because it can be hard to find how to ask for recommendations specifically. But I liked her point about quality over quantity. You want to reach out to people who are going to give you a valuable, more substantive recommendation than, “Oh that person’s nice.” But someone who has worked with you and can give a very detailed recommendation.

Jessica Black:

Concrete facts.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, I think that’s definitely the most valuable.

Mac Prichard:

She didn’t say this explicitly, but I think that sometimes people were tempted to reach out to people who are VIPs in our field, but may not know us.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah. I wouldn’t do that.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I wouldn’t either. Because I think to your point, the people who know our work best are going to be able to speak to it best.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, and that sweet spot is definitely somebody who is more respected in the field and has worked with you directly.

Mac Prichard:

Right.

Becky Thomas:

Sometimes you don’t always have that, at that stage in your career, so you have to work with what you have. But yeah, I thought it was good.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I think that it doesn’t take anything away. To both of your points, I think it is quality over quantity, in terms of having somebody who does directly know you, rather than a person in your field who’s very highly respected, that can give you a very mediocre, or not very great at all, recommendation.

Mac Prichard:

A superficial recommendation.

Jessica Black:

I think that will actually hurts you more than a stellar recommendation from a “unknown” person that knows you really well.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, but I also liked her focus on giving recommendations as well. I think that that’s something that when people think about getting recommendations, they don’t always think about that reciprocity that we talked about before. I think that that is equally important, but I liked her note about making sure that it’s authentic. Same thing, you want to make sure that you are giving a recommendation of someone that you really know, and are willing to vouch for. Because you are sticking your neck out for someone, so you don’t want to just give anyone a “Oh yeah, they did great.” kind of fudge the numbers a little bit and say, “They did a great job at x, y, and z”, when they didn’t or you don’t know if they didn’t, or whatever. But having those open conversations about that with the person you’re giving.

One more thing I thought was really interesting, that she made the note about making sure that you get more recommendations than you give. Because that wasn’t something that I thought about before in terms of, making sure that that’s the ratio. Which I thought was just really interesting, because you think, “Oh I’m giving recommendations, this is really generous and it’s still showing you are working with other people, and giving those recommendations.” But making sure that you get more than you give, I thought that was interesting.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

So you don’tcome across as spamming.

Jessica Black:

I guess so.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, it was just something I didn’t think about before, so it was interesting.

Mac Prichard:

Ben?

Ben Forstag:

I liked the fact that she brought up the idea of writing the recommendation for yourself. Or writing the recommendation and then passing it along to the person.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, making it easy for people.

Ben Forstag:

I would say that seventy five of the people that I’ve asked for a recommendation have basically said, “Yeah, you write it and I’ll sign it.” You have to be reasonable about what you’re talking about, because that or the person is going to cross things out if they don’t believe them. I think that is a completely legitimate way that things are done. If you can make life easier for your colleague, your peer, you should do it.

Becky Thomas:

I think on that note, I would at least check in with the person first and be like, “Hey, is it okay if I write the recommendation?”, or, “Here’s some of the things I would like you to talk about in the work experience that we’ve had together. I would be happy to write it if you would prefer, just let me know.”

Jessica Black:

Right, exactly.

Becky Thomas:

Instead of like, “Hey I wrote this for you, please post it on my LinkedIn.”

Jessica Black:

I like that when you’re doing the initial pitch, of having some of the bullet points, “Here are some of the things we’ve talked about in person before that I think you could speak really highly to. Let me know if you don’t have the time for this, and I’ll be happy to help a little bit more.” If they come back to you and say, “I would love to. I completely believe in the things you’ve done, I really am swamped right now”, then that is a gateway to writing it, and sending it back with, “Do you sign off on this?”, or whatever you want to say.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, because I think they do have to post it themselves, you can’t post it.

Jessica Black:

Oh yeah. Absolutely.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, under their name.

While we didn’t talk about this because we ran out of time, it’s important to recognize that it takes time to get two or three recommendations per position.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

So don’t be frustrated that it takes you a number of months to line people up and get them published.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I was actually going to ask you that, Mac. What do you think, is, if you have…I know Viveka mentioned a little bit about this of, you’re new to LinkedIn or you haven’t thought about recommendations before and you want to go back to some of your previous jobs and ask for recommendations there. It will show up as the current date rather than the time that you were working with the person or during the timeframe that you worked at that job? Does that take away anything, or are recommendations good to have no matter when you get them?

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s fine. They’re good to have whenever you get them. So I think three years ago, I went back and I got recommendations from at least two people for every job I had, (and I’m dating myself) going back to 1980, and I found those people, and it took about three months to go through that process.

Jessica Black:

Yeah. Sure.

Mac Prichard:

Go through reminders. But now they’re in place. I do need to get better about, as I get…about adding a current one or two as I add new volunteer positions.

Jessica Black:

Right.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, but good stuff, and again, it’s all about social proof. So great points from all three of you.

Thank you, Viveka, for those wonderful suggestions, and thank you, our listeners, for downloading today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

Now, if you like what you hear, please sign-up for our free weekly newsletter.

In every issue, we give you the key points of that week’s show. We include links to all the resources mentioned, as well as a transcript of the full episode.

Subscribe to the newsletter now and you’ll get our new guide, the Top Career Podcasts of 2017.  Discover all the podcasts that can help you find a great job and get the career you want.

Get your free guide and newsletter today. Go to macslist.org/topcareerpodcasts2017.

Join us next Wednesday when our special guest will be Tony Restell. He’ll share his secret for career happiness.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job!

LinkedIn has tons of tools for the job seeker, but recommendations are one of the most powerful. Our guest shares step-by-step guidelines for getting and giving great LinkedIn recommendations to help prove your value as a professional in the modern job market.

About Our Guest: Viveka von Rosen

Viveka von Rosen is co-founder of Vengreso, the world’s largest full-spectrum social selling provider. She’s also the author of two best-selling books, LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and LinkedIn: 101 Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand.

Resources in this Episode