In the face of the Economic Mystery, online networking is really the only way to feel we're concretely helping ourselves and others.
A soon-to-be-laid-off communicator told me that one doesn't even appear on headhunter searches unless one has five "recommendations." So everyone is out gathering recommendations from everyone else, and I've gotten a number of requests to recommend people, and I imagine I'll get some more. As I've gotten requests from people I like and admire, so far it's been a pleasure.
I have couple questions, though:
1. So far, people aren't too shy about quid-pro-quo: "Recommend me and I'll recommend you." But don't you think in a competitive labor market, HR people are going to start checking to see: Of all the people who recommended Larry, how many did Larry also recommend? A colleague and I agreed to at least not recommend one another on the same day, so that we could avoid being seen as "log-rolling," as my friend put it.
2. And a speechwriter recently requested a recommendation. "I've already written it for you," he said, pointing me to a paragraph that was well enough written and just accurate enough—"I don't think I've claimed too much," he added—that I reluctantly acquiesced and pasted it in.
But this seems like a practice that could get out of hand, and that's the last time I'm doing that.* And in fact, the next time I get a self-written recommendation from a fellow writer, I'm going to retaliate by instead using the sample recommendation that LinkedIn provides: "_____ is a detail-oriented manager who watches the balance sheet like a hawk without losing sight of the strategic objective."
(Who would want to hire a communicator like that?)
What rules are you making on LinkedIn?
Well, that “five recommendations to show on a headhunter search” thing is depressing as hell, since I will be unemployed myself in a couple of months and looking for a new gig.
That seems kind of short-sighted to me, since you might THINK that one or two really solid and sincere recommendations would be at least as worthwhile, if not more than a whole raft of recommendations just to have recommendations. But whatev, as Eileen likes to say.
As far as rules go, I am fairly new to LinkedIn, but I have so far only recommended people I actually worked with on something (i.e. not just because they were at the same company at the same time and we occassionally passed each other in the hallway) and about whom I have something positive to say in a professional context.
I’ve asked for only three recommendations (two of which I’ve received – one is under consideration), all from people who have actually worked with me, and with whom I felt I had a positive and solid enough business relationship that they would be able to write a recommendation without too much of a stretch.
I don’t have any issue with people asking me for recommendations, as long as we have worked together on something, and/or I’ve used their services and the results were positive.
I would not feel comfortable writing a recommendation about myself and asking someone else to post it, unless that person asked me to do so. Even then, I think I would be more comfortable offering some general areas in which I felt the other person might be able to comment on my work rather than writing the whole thing for them. Maybe I’m too old school, but that smacks of disingenousness to me.
But hey, who knows? If you ask me again in the fall and I’m still unemployed, my high horse may have tossed me on my butt and turned me into a mercenary, shameless recommendation-hunter.
David Murray says
Forgot to mention in my post that Studs Terkel used to call himself “the round-heeled blurb writer,” because he never met a book he wouldn’t endorse on the back cover.
Why? He felt if a poor slob had gone through all the trouble of writing a whole book and getting it published, a generous blurb from Studs wasn’t too much to ask.
Joan H. says
Just plain dumb on my part, but I thought all those recommendations were spontaneous–that the author just really liked the person recommended and decided to write something up. Had I bothered to think this through, I’d have known what a fatuous notion that was. Good grief. Time for more coffee.
I get people who just ask me…and in most cases, I don’t mind. I did have one person who asked, whom I couldn’t recommend. That was very uncomfortable.
David Murray says
How did you tell the person? “You sucked like a bucket of ticks?”