How to make online recommendations more meaningful

By Barbara Findlay Schenck

Has the fine art of getting a sincere endorsement been lost? Click-n-praise options (such as LinkedIn endorsements) that verify your skills, seem to be taking the place of good old-fashioned recommendations. But do they really measure up to testimonials with specific details that tell others about the unique value you deliver?

According to Forbes writer Eve Mayer, LinkedIn endorsements are what social networkers call lite recommendations, the “Stove Top stuffing version,” with less “meatiness than Grandma’s homemade stuffing.”

Reach out and ask for recommendations

Whether you’re seeking individual accolades or want testimonials about your businesses to put on your company’s website, waiting and wishing for customers or associates to put compliments into words won’t cut it. Instead, you need to get proactive with your requests.

When sending out your requests for recommendations, communication pro and serial entrepreneur Peter Levitan suggests that you consider the following:
  • Explain why you’re asking for recommendations and be specific about the type of recommendation you hope to receive. This puts your request in context and prompts a higher number of responses.
  • Add a section to each email that explains why you’re reaching out to this individual. This enables you to share a compliment and conveys that your request is one of a select few and not a mass mailing.
  • Give your response urgency by stating a reasonable deadline.

Levitan followed his own advice, (with good results) when he sent out the following email:

“I’m launching an advertising agency consultation business in February. I’d like to include a few very brief kudos/recommendations from some of my most trusted and super-smart buddies—people like you. You know: Peter is a really smart guy; really knows the business; and is going to set you up for success. …Would you write one for me? As help, here are a couple of recommendations from LinkedIn. Let me know if you have questions. Thanks ahead. Oh, the deadline … next week.”

Anatomy of a good recommendation

Obviously, if the words spoken on your behalf sound as if they came from you or someone at your company, they miss the mark. Instead, showcase only those recommendations that meet these standards:

Does the recommendation express a genuine opinion?

People respond to recommendations that are frank and unscripted.

Is it written in a conversational way?

Sentences don’t have to be editorially perfect. Instead, they need to sound as if a real person actually shared these words.

Is the information focused and specific?

The best recommendations feature a specific aspect worthy of recognition rather than a general shout-out for overall excellence. For example: “When I said I was in a rush, they didn’t offer same-day service. They asked if I could give them 45 minutes. Amazing!”

Is the individual willing to put his or her name on the recommendation?

To make these recommendations carry more weight, request permission to sign the person’s name.

Do you have a plan for using these recommendations?

Once people put their compliments in writing, spread the praise far and wide. Use recommendations in full or accurately excerpt them on your website, in social media, and in sales materials, letters, and presentations.

Don’t wait for one-click endorsements. Make the most of the hard work you’ve put into developing your career and business and try to add to them at least once a year.
About Barbara Findlay Schenck
Findlay Schenck is a small-business strategist and author of several books including “Small Business Marketing Kit for Dummies.”

Article ID: 2928623 - Last Review: 14 Feb 2017 - Revision: 1