May 20, 2011
Many small business owners know that word-of-mouth marketing via social media and direct business referrals is extremely powerful to grow their businesses. For small businesses and individuals in search of career change alike, LinkedIn can be one of your best sources of live recommendations. You simply have to know the process.
LinkedIn recommendations are great Proof Sources from other people, better in fact than most testimonials because they cannot be faked. I mean, do you really believe when you read on a website that “JR, Dallas, TX” who vouches for the business is a real person? Beachfront property—Idaho—you know the rest. LinkedIn recommendations link back to the profile of the person who recommended you, meaning that whoever is checking you out can learn about the people who think you’re great. Recommendations provide genuine 3rd party perspective about your business and your personal skills and character, and they help viewers get over the hump that stands between looking at your profile and contacting you for opportunities.
Recommendation Strategy for LinkedIn
Right in the Profile dropdown of LinkedIn is a sub-tab on managing recommendations. We talked about this before and you can view the videos for more info. You should have two objectives regarding recommendations:
1. Get them, as often as possible and as recent as possible.
2. Make them great.
So how do you do that? In order to get them, first ask the people you know and love who feel the same way about you, provided they’re on LinkedIn. The next best way to get recommendations is to give them to past colleagues, current business partners, etc. It takes you all of about five minutes to pen a recommendation for someone you’ve worked with. LinkedIn will send each person an email with the recommendation for their review, that when completed and accepted, it will post the recommendation to each person’s profile. As soon as that happens the person you recommended is automatically prompted to return the favor and recommend you. Guess what? 33-50% of them will without being asked.
Better yet is if the recommended contacts you to say thanks. Now here is your strategy to get a great recommendation (use this for website testimonials as well):
1. Say you’re welcome, and ask if the person can return the favor. He’ll say yes or something like, “I’d like to, but I really don’t know what to write.” Of course we both know it is laziness, so you take that burden off of the other person.
2. You say, “I know you’re extremely busy and this can be a pain. How about I rough up something and kick it to you in an email (or LinkedIn mail)? If it accurately reflects our work history, copy/paste it into a recommendation. If not, edit as you feel appropriate and do the same. Make sense? He’ll say yes.
3. You say, “Remember that project where we _____ because you were having that problem of ____? We implemented the ____ and if I recall, that resulted in ____.” If you have an example like that, he’ll remember. “How about I make it about that?”
What have you done? You took the burden of writing a recommendation off of the other person, while maintaining integrity by referencing a real work experience you both know occurred. Your recommendations on LinkedIn can also contain keywords, a little known fact when SEOing your profile. That’s why you writing the recommendation using the reference’s sentiment is key, because you have this SEO capacity within your control. When you get that recommendation back, it is going to be a solid one that helps your credibility and findability, not a simple generic character reference that sounds like it came from your spouse or priest.
4 Steps to Writing Superior Recommendations Anywhere
“Wait Karl, I don’t know how to write a recommendation like that?” you ask sheepishly. No worries. Use the CARE approach as outlined below. You can do this is a few short sentences:
Challenge – What was the work problem that you helped out with for this colleague, boss or customer?
Action – What action did you take to save the day?
Results – The happy ending details.
Endorsement – A hearty, personal endorsement for you with the offer to contact the person with any questions. The reality is (and tell this to the recommender), less than 10% of people influenced by the recommendation will actually bug that person expressly because of the offer. The recommendation itself says everything necessary.
EX: “Our sales were flatlined and we needed some help. We hired Karl and he came in and provided us with some innovative marketing strategies like Executive Video Interviews for our site and optimizing our LinkedIn profiles, as well as acting as interim Sales Manager for two months while we found a full-time person, who he screened and provided initial training for. Website inquiries tripled on our contact form and sales improved by 17% in the next 6 months. I cannot say enough about the impact Karl made on our business performance. Contact me if you need more details.”
This approach to creating and getting testimonials applies to the ones on your website as well. It works and will provide more credibility for your business. This process alone provides a ton of value over and above the LinkedIn optimization if you use it properly.
Many small business owners know that word-of-mouth marketing via social media and direct business referrals is extremely powerful to grow their businesses. For small businesses and individuals in search of career change alike, LinkedIn can be one of your best sources of live recommendations. You simply have to know the process. Learn the best LinkedIn recommendation strategy and 4 steps to writing killer recommendations for any business.
Is your repeat business 75% or higher? Learn more about Selling Solutions skills to kick-start repeat business. More small business strategies for growth can be found at the Smart Blog. Smart Company Growth is a small business growth strategies firm founded by Karl Walinskas that helps companies grow sales and contain costs.