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If you are referred to something by someone that you know and trust, you are much more open to sampling what is on offer.  How many times have you tried a new restaurant after a friend has shared their positive experience?

The psychological impact of references cannot be under-estimated and again, this provides you with a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd. 

If you had a choice of two people to work with, both of whom have on paper the same experience and both of whom have come across really well, which one would you choose?  The one that can provide strong supportive references from all of their previous engagements or the one that does not have any available?

I suspect that it will be the former rather than the latter.  The fact that they have gone out and obtained references in itself escalates them in our mind and is often the deciding factor in our decision making – the 3rd party endorsements help to alleviate the natural degree of scepticism that we have when bringing new people into the team.

So how do you get more Recommendations?

Simple – ask for them!

Make sure that you proactively approach people that you have worked with, worked for and those that have worked for you and ask them to provide their thoughts on your performance/ approach.  Linkedin makes this process really easy and a very high percentage of people will respond if prompted.

One way to encourage a response is to give a recommendation in the first place.  When you input a recommendation onto Linkedin, the recipient is asked if they wish to provide a recommendation back.  Again, a high percentage feel obliged to do so!

The power of recommendations, especially from senior individuals within similar organisations can be the difference between moving forward and not being taken forward so take action now.


Think back to previous roles or projects that you have been involved in. Focus on those that you have enjoyed and those with the type of organisation you are ideally looking to work with in the future.

Go into Linkedin and search for those people that you worked with – your line manager, the sponsor of the programme, your team members etc. On their profile page, scroll down to their References section and you’ll see two buttons;

You can “Ask for a recommendation” or make a “Recommendation”

My preference is always to adopt the Giver Gain approach and make a Recommendation and I’d strongly recommend that you be as direct and succinct as you can – this will again elevate you to anyone that cares to read your profile.

When you write a recommendation, Linkedin send a message to the recipient asking them to do two things;

  1. Confirm whether they wish to include the recommendation on their profile and
  2. Ask them if they want to respond with a recommendation on YOU!

Unsurprisingly, many people take up this second option!

So make it a weekly challenge to search out 2 or 3 previous colleagues and send them a recommendation – even if they don’t respond with one for you, they will be reminded of you and the relationship will be ‘renewed’.

Don’t be surprised at what happens next, when they make contact with you!