Friday, 11 August 2017

Why you should give - and request - recommendations

Recommendations for products and services should be part of the marketing strategy for any business.

Whether it's feedback on Ebay, reviews on TripAdvisor or positive comments on Facebook and Twitter - recommendations help to raise your business profile, establish your expertise and convince new customers to get in touch.

Sometimes, when we're busy, we can all be guilty of not making enough use of the power of the recommendation. Even the happiest of customers sometimes needs reminding that you would really welcome a testimonial from them. Once they do write one for you - and providing they are happy for you to share their words widely - you can use that testimonial multiple times. As well as adding it to your website you could use a quote from it as part of an image on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

A testimonial can be expanded into a case study that can be published on a website or blog - and the finished article can also promote the business that has given the recommendation with details about what they do and links back to their website.

If you are a member of a business networking group or club you will have heard people giving verbal testimonials around the table for businesses they have worked with, which is fantastic proof for those in the room and the people they talk to about you. If they can put those positive words in writing as well it can reach a much wider audience.

Using LinkedIn recommendations to boost your business

Since the major redesign of LinkedIn at the start of 2017, many businesses I work with have reported a drop in the number of recommendations they receive on their profiles.

This may be because you now navigate a different route through LinkedIn to request, or give, a recommendation and arguably it's less in-your-face. On the plus side, bringing the desktop version and the mobile LinkedIn app closer together in design and functionality means once you know where to go it's easy to recommend - and be recommended - regardless of which device you are using to access LinkedIn.

The easiest way to get started is the three dots in a line that appear at the top of anyone's profile on both desktop or the mobile app. So whether you want to recommend someone, or be recommended by them, start by going to their profile page on LinkedIn.

Click on the three dots to the right of their profile image and it reveals a dropdown menu. As you can see on this screenshot of Mat Nation's profile, the last two options are 'Request a recommendation' and 'Recommend Mat'.

Whether you click the option to ask for a recommendation, or to give a recommendation, you will get a pop-up that asks you to confirm how you know Mat and what your job was at the time you are writing about. This is a reminder that there is a benefit in getting recommendations for roles you held in the past as well as what you are doing now. Clients are reassured to know that you have a track record for delivering great customer service down the years.

When you have chosen the answers to these two questions from the options that LinkedIn gives you, click 'Next' and continue to either personalise the request for a recommendation or to write the testimonial that you want to give.

More information about LinkedIn recommendations

When you give a recommendation, the recipient is sent a message in their LinkedIn inbox and can see what you have written by clicking a link. There is the option to request a change to the wording before you click the option to add it to your profile.

Since the redesign of the desktop version of LinkedIn, everyone's profile follows the same order. It's no longer possible to move sections, including recommendations, up or down. This does make it easier to find the recommendations that people have received or given (if any) when you look at their profiles.

You will see that the recommendations 'Received' shows as the default, but you can click the tab called 'Given' to see recommendations they have given.

Go to your own profile and click the blue pencil next to the 'ask to be recommended' button and you will find there are a range of options for the visibility of recommendations that you have given.

You can choose for it to be public, visible to your 1st degree connections only, or visible only to you (in other words - hidden).

The recommendations that you have received and added to your profile can also be hidden if you feel they are no longer relevant to what you do. There is a button that you slide across if you no longer want it to show on your profile.

We can never predict what LinkedIn will tweak or change next, but this information was correct at the time of writing.

Make sure you are being generous in giving recommendations to people who have done great work for you down the years. It's the right thing to do. Sometimes, when it is appropriate, they will return the favour and recommend you. If they don't, don't be too shy to ask them. More people than you may think are happy to give a recommendation. They just sometimes need a gentle reminder.