Sure, LinkedIn is useful if you want to network broadly, but as a business development platform, it's kind of like McDonald's: fast, cheap, and forgettable. In just a few minutes you can add a dozen strangers to your pool of connections and endorse them for skills you've never seen them demonstrate. You can join their cluttered discussion groups and add your opinions to the fray. But if you're interested in a substantive interaction that deepens a professional relationship, there is only one LinkedIn feature you will find useful: recommendations.
These are the written testimonials that allow you to comment at length on your firsthand knowledge of another person's character and abilities. It's like a letter of reference, only it's public. And if you use it as an opportunity to offer a heartfelt acknowledgment, it can transform a relationship for the better. The key is to follow these three steps:
- Set aside at least five minutes
- Choose someone for whom you have genuine respect
- Write a thoughtful recommendation based on your firsthand experience of them
This exercise converts an otherwise dry platform into an opportunity for meaningful communication. In some cases, your LinkedIn recommendation may be the only forum in which you can acknowledge someone without embarrassing them. It's like a eulogy for the living, and it's a powerful way to build your connection with your "connections."
Authored by David Ackert