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When You Recommend on Linked-In, is it Worthwhile?

rejectedI noticed something when I logged onto Linkedin … a recommendation for a former exec from a peer that didn’t think much of that person. This intrigued me. Why, I thought, would he write a recommendation for her? So, I asked him.

His response: “You never know when she might recommend me and I get a job out of it.” (Note to self, his recommendations are likely without value)

Are Your Recommendations Valuable?

It depends on a few things: Who’s recommending, who’s reading them and the recommendation itself. So, to be appropriate in context of this site, let’s call it client recommendations your potential clients might read, and how they could interpret them.

All puff & love

Let’s face it … we just don’t believe these. Call us jaded or callous, but a big love fest just doesn’t ring true. It’s assumed we only surface positive, glowing recommendations. But, if you have too many of these, can they be real? (Unless, of course, you are an agent in Stepford)

The bad makes the good believable

Let’s look at how we weigh the experiences of others in our decision making. For example, when I look to Yelp for a restaurant review, I sort by negative/low star feedback to make my decision. I’m looking for a deal-breaking scenario. So, if a reviewer felt their food server was snitty, that’s subjective so it doesn’t hold too much weight – unless it’s a common theme. On the other hand, finding a roach in the soup is a deal-breaker.

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Not relatable

If your testimonial was for a luxury high-rise condo buyer, and I’m a family sort hunting in the burbs, I may not relate. Likewise, if I’m reading the experience of a Trump-esque buyer of their 3rd mansion, I surely can’t relate! Make sure you have a representative sampling of the types of clients you want to attract, by lifestyle and demographic.

The conundrum

How can you get a variety of relatable, realistic, believable testimonials/recommendations? It’s not ethical or authentic to write them yourself. Plus, who has the time. But, for most of us sitting in front of a blank screen is daunting, so how can we ask clients to endure such a painful process?

Mad Libs, anyone?

I’m outing myself on age here, but when I was young and went to summer or sports camp, we entertained ourselves with Mad Libs. Mad Libs were pre-written paragraphs with _______ areas to fill in a verb, noun, adjective, etc. Of course you wouldn’t be that literal with your clients, but you could offer a few Mad Lib type templates to help make it easier for them to pen a quick recommendation that is more meaningful.

In fact, it could make for a fun page on your web site or blog – a fill in the blanks page.

Fill in the blanks

When asking a client for a letter of recommendation, you may consider asking them to choose 3 from among several “fill in the blank” questions with to complete. This way you can offer succinct quotes in your marketing materials rather than a long letter.

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Here’s a few:

1. The most painful part of the process of selling/buying my home was _________________
2. I (we) am (are) selling/buying because ________________
3. The one thing (your name) said to me that came as a surprise was ________________
4. If I had to choose just one adjective to describe (your name) it would be _____________
5. This is the first time I (we) ever ______________________
5. This is the last time I (we) will ever ___________________

What I’d believe …

“Right out of the gate, everything Ken Brand said made us angry! First, he said we needed to be more realistic in our price, and to reduce by $17k. Then, he informed us most people wouldn’t be interested in my wife’s collection of 189 Lladro Figurines and said de-cluttering and staging our home was a must. Finally, he had the nerve to say our four cats and their litter box left a repugnant odor. While I hate to admit being wrong, his straight-forward manner paid off. By following his advice we sold our home more quickly that most in our area, and got our full asking price. We can now comfortably downsize to that condo at the beach and enjoy retirement.”

Those ~120 words pack some punch. I get it’s an empty nest couple, selling, Ken Brand isn’t afraid to be the expert and he gets results beyond other local agents.

photo credit Nocklebeast

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Written By

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.



  1. Sal Antsipenka

    January 7, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    I just don’t care about this bru ha ha. I am getting a lot of referrals from my clients and not only in US through regular real estate wrok with them day in day out and helping in lots of other matters that arise periodically. That’s a kind of work where your referrals will be iron clad and no gimmicks.

    • Brandie Young

      January 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm

      Hi Sal. Sounds like you’re doing well. Congrats.

  2. Dave at Remax

    January 8, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Stretching the truth into multiple “Stepford-like” recommendations are a fast road to losing credibility in the real world. The way technology moves and the amount of bored techno-geeks there are in the world some day someone will be measuring things like “average time at job for recommended friends on Linked In”. No thanks. Great article!

    • Brandie Young

      January 8, 2010 at 6:15 pm

      Hi Dave,
      hmmm, not sure what you mean by “stretching the truth”? In looking at LinkedIn vs. Yelp, for example, for have one (LinkedIn) that can be filtered prior to surfacing vs. the other (Yelp) that goes up no matter what. To me, the filtering and ability to edit lessen the impact. To mitigate that, I think if a previous client also shares the less-than-pleasant aspects of the transaction it could help another get a more real feel for you as an agent. Unless, of course, you utilize Yelp to surface referrals ….

  3. Derse

    January 8, 2010 at 7:25 am

    I’ve been on LinkedIn for years and essentially, it is my “farm” … my database of business customers, clients, prospects. I’ve held different job titles over the years, resulting in a variety of different “connections”. My “recommendations” display my versatility, creativity, dedication and “street smarts”.. The latter is particularly important for someone with no degree. As a relocation specialist, I’ve used my testimonials and recommendations as a marketing piece to HR and executive search prospects and have recently been contacted by a recruiter who found me on L-In. An important note here: LinkedIn is NOT Facebook … NOT “social networking”. It’s business! My best friend is not even a “connection” of mine … nor are any of my real estate “colleagues” (even/especially at my own company). Why would I want them (friends, but competitiors) to see my business mailing list … people I’m prospecting?

    • Brandie Young

      January 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

      Sounds like you got that all dialed in. Let me share with you what I mentioned to Dave (above):
      In looking at LinkedIn vs. Yelp, for example, for have one (LinkedIn) that can be filtered prior to surfacing vs. the other (Yelp) that goes up no matter what. To me, the filtering and ability to edit lessen the impact. To mitigate that, I think if a previous client also shares the less-than-pleasant aspects of the transaction it could help another get a more real feel for you as an agent. Unless, of course, you utilize Yelp to surface referrals ….
      Would love to hear your thoughts on that.

  4. Ken Brand

    January 8, 2010 at 8:35 am

    You make some great points here, the same principal applies with all marketing, presentation and persuasion, slathering on the wow-we, the best ever, etc., is guaranteed to raise suspicion, which turns your positive recommendation inside out.

    I don’t always succeed, but I try to routinely include both the pros and cons. This approach, as you shared, works. It’s rings true because we all know nothing and nobody is perfect. And sharing positives and negatives is honest.

    Cheers Brandi

    • Brandie Young

      January 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm

      Hiya Ken,
      You’re so awesome. Thanks for your thoughts here!

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