Tips on Asking for Recommendations From Your Network on LinkedIn

Asking for recommendations on LinkedIn, especially when you’re reaching out to someone for the first time in a while, can feel awkward. The best way to open the conversation is to re-establish a connection by asking them for a call to reconnect and get advice. People you’ve worked with – even if it was a while ago – are usually very willing to give a few minutes to offer advice. In your call with them you also want to make sure you spend a few minutes reminiscing about projects you worked on together. This builds rapport, and gives you the perfect opportunity to ask for a recommendation based on what you discussed.

The best way to ensure that someone gives you a recommendation? Write it yourself. Many people are willing to give recommendations to people they think highly of, but the perceived work of actually writing it can make them procrastinate. Help them out by sending along a draft that they can edit and sign. 

When you’ve gotten off the phone take a few minutes to write an email that goes something like this:

“Hey, thank you so much for taking the time to reconnect with me today. It was so great to hear your voice and hear how well you are doing. I really appreciate your advice on how I might focus my job search efforts. Your offer to {if they offered a specific helpful thing, put that here} was really nice. 

I am wondering if you might be open to posting a recommendation for me on LinkedIn? As I ramp up my search I’m very conscious of my profile and want to be sure it reflects the skills and experiences I am bringing to a new job. I was thinking you might feel comfortable focusing on {project you talked about in your call} since you seemed to remember it as well as I did! Below I’ve written a couple of sentences that highlight the contribution I made. If you think this is accurate would you be willing to post it? Of course I would certainly be willing to post a similar recommendation for you about {same or different project} if you would find that helpful.”

This does require you to have a good degree of self-awareness about your skills and strengths. You can start with people you worked with most recently and most closely, and then move out from there. Also, start with peers or, if you were a manager, direct reports. These recommendations are as valuable as those from supervisors. Someone who remembers you as a good boss may be very willing to give you a hand in this way.

Tami Forman is the founding executive director of Path Forward and a frequent speaker on issues related to caregiving and workforce participation.