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In the 5th installment we look at LinkedIn Recommendations.

If you’re a small business or a sales person you’re not selling a product or service, you’re selling yourself. For many, the thought of self-promotion just isn’t one that they are comfortable with. LinkedIn can help you with your discomfort.

Recommendations can serve as an effective alternative to selling yourself. They are an opportunity to let others toot your horn. On LinkedIn there are four types of recommendations:

Colleague: Worked at the same company
Service Provider: Hired the person
Business Partner: Worked together but not as a client or colleague
Student: Fellow student or teacher
Let me start by saying any recommendation is better than no recommendation. That being said, the recommendation that really stands out is one from a client. I’ll talk more about this in a second.

Out of curiosity I took a look at 10 of my connections to see how they were doing with recommendations. These folks all had between 146 and 357 connections, and here is what I found:

Colleague Recommendations: 15
Service Provider: 18
Business Partner: 23
Student: 1
That’s 57 recommendations among folks that had a combined 2,747 connections. I normally recommend that you try to have at least 10 recommendations, so this group is about 43 short.

These are not new LinkedIn users. They’re people that have been members for longer than a year, and each is very good at what they do. The only explanation for the low number of recommendations is that they’re likely not asking for them from the client’s who are on LinkedIn.

The best time to ask is when you’ve completed work for a client and they are happy. You’re also on the top of their mind. The next time you work with a client see if they’re on LinkedIn. If they are, connect to them and then ask for the recommendation. If you did a great job they’ll be happy to submit the recommendation. Let them toot your horn.

Finally, recommendations from clients also help you get listed in the LinkedIn Service Provider directory. It’s not the most used LinkedIn feature but it never hurts to be listed as number one.

Don’t forget to share the love as well. If a fellow LinkedIn member has provided you great service or simply went out of their way to help you, give them a recommendation. Don’t keep them a secret.
One of the added benefits to providing a recommendation is that you create a link on the recommended person’s profile page to your profile. People will often look to see who provided the recommendation. This is just another way to draw traffic to your profile.

Until next time, connect away.

Sean Nelson is the author of the Linked Intuition blog and helps business professionals, the Self-Employed and small businesses understand how to effectively use LinkedIn to expand their networking and grow their business.

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