Don’t be Guilty by Association
I am amazed to read a recommendation for individuals who apparently everyone else in the world (other than the recommender) thinks is an absolute incompetent buffoon. Do not recommend people based on a popularity contest or out of guilt because they did the same for you, because whether you like it or not, your connection to them and association through LinkedIn recommendations aligns your credibility with theirs.
Draw a line with a tick mark at each end and one in the middle. This represents what we call the trust continuum. The center is neutral. To the left is1; to the right, þ1. Most people start out in the center. I don’t know you, so you have two opportunities. You can either choose to enhance your position with a consistent level of predictability and move to the right, or choose to dilute your credibility—my faith in your word and deeds—and move yourself to the left. If others won’t say it, let me: I seldom invest time and effort in those hanging out on the left.
Don’t Abuse the Connection
If you do, you’ll be removed. Nobody likes to get egg on his or her face. If I connect with you online and the very next day you send me five requests to recommend you without us ever having worked together, or even worse, you suddenly barrage me with requests from others, you have clearly abused our connection. Some people I connect with based on the nature of their work, intellectually stimulating conversations we’ve had, or the perception of greater mutual opportunities ahead. Make me regret this and you are three clicks away from being completely removed from my LinkedIn network.
In this day and age, companies use titles like you and I change underclothes. You are an assistant senior vice president of global pencil pushing at Company XYZ. So what? (1) I have never heard of that company and have no idea what it does. (2) What is your realm of responsibilities? What results did you deliver? What impact did you have on the viability and growth of the organization? Profiles with little to no content under a title are the digital version of an empty suit.
Use Good Judgment.
The good Lord gave us all discretion. I am amazed at how few people actually use it. LinkedIn is a social networking tool for business professionals. It is not Match.com, eHarmony, or Facebook for college dropouts. Use spell check. Use correct grammar. This is a forum for business professionals, so keep requests on the business side. Make sure your comments and recommendations are professional, polished, and exemplary of your style, thought process, and how you want to be perceived. Last, remember to include a current photo! Your college yearbook picture from 1982 is not the best way to get your professional image across.
To learn more, read the revised and updated Relationship Economics paperback edition with 40 percent new content, including an all-new chapter 10 on social media and business relationships (Wiley, Feb. 2011).