I love recommendations. They provide 3rd party testimonial proof that your LinkedIn profile is peer reviewed and credible. What I dread is when someone sends me a recommendation request that has nothing but the default text.
The worst is when I don’t even know a person. That just shouldn’t happen. “I recommend the work of a person I’ve never met and have never experienced” is just not an honest and credible thing to do. It looks bad for them and especially for me. So I politely ask on what basis they’d like to be recommended for since I’ve never experienced their product or service. I have yet to hear back from anyone who has made the initial request.
The other annoying behavior is when people I do know send me a request, again with the default text. Sometimes it’s been recent, but most often, people think about needing recommendations much later.
I can and do take the time to think about how we worked together in the past and to look at their profile to see what position the recommendation request is for. But honestly, most people that you ask don’t know what to write that will help you accomplish your goals.
A better option—and not just for busy people—is to offer an outline of what you’d like to be recommended for or at least why so that people you ask have an idea of what to say. Remember, that recommendations are not character references, not just a pat on the back. The most effective recommendations detail specific elements of a project more than saying “he’s a great guy!”
The old adage likely applies to recommendations: you get what you ask for. Or to paraphrase a former president, “Don’t ask; they won’t tell” what you were brilliant at!