The holidays are a time of acknowledgement in the business world. People thanking people for their business throughout the year. Managers thanking team members. Employees thanking boss and vice versa. For some, it’s a chance to strengthen a professional bond through gift giving. Regulated industries are sometimes restricted in their giving by way of the value of the gift, but for most its a matter of budget and imagination. Sales representatives often try to get creative when handing out gifts to clients. The requisite tin of popcorn, or bottle of wine may or may not be a hit. Depending on how well you did your homework, you may have a good idea of what the person may want.
However, there is something you can give. It isn’t likely to be asked for. It doesn’t cost money, and it’s something that will be greatly appreciated. Whether it’s a colleague, client, manager, vendor, client or prospect, if you’ve transacted some type of business with them, you have something worthwhile that you can gift them during the holiday season: a real recommendation. Delivering this gift is easy thanks to LinkedIn. Their “recommendations” feature has been available for years. Lately it has not gotten as much attention though with the introduction of LinkedIn “endorsements”.
When a person fills out their profile they are asked to list their skills. LinkedIn allows people you’re connected with to endorse you for those skills. Think of it as a professional nod. Yes, I acknowledge you have skill in that area therefore I will endorse you. One can be endorsed quite easily on LinkedIn with just the click of a button. Recommendations are a little more involved. They require somewhat more thought, and can be personalized.
By having to write about someone you can more in depth to describe their skill, their attitude, their aptitude and what the experience was like working with this person. More than just a nod, it’s like putting your stamp of approval on someone’s work or professional career. As such, recommendations should be reserved for people you’ve actually worked alongside, hired to do a job, managed or employed. Employees, contractors and vendors may also recommend those up the ladder as well.
As a professional, you owe it to yourself to invest some time in making good recommendations. We’re frequently asked, “how can I get people to recommend me?”. Often, the answer is you must give first in order to receive. Now go and do likewise.