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For "Recommendations 101," I suggest you pick up a copy of my book that includes an entire chapter on recommendations. But today I want to take a much more strategic look at recommendations--why you need them, how to use them, and why they are so critical in this new economy in which we now find ourselves.
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1.  Your name appears on other people's profiles.

How cool is that. What better place to have your name and your job title show up than on the profile of a very important, well-respected individual in your town or industry. Talk about personal branding and what we can all do to increase the awareness of our brands--this really hits the target.
I recently saw a recommendation written for a competitor of mine from what I thought was a good customer of mine. The key word there is "thought." Not fun, huh! I guess we lost that customer.

2.  People can not only recommend you but also your products and services.

Of course, people could talk about your products and services in the recommendations you receive on your individual LinkedIn profile, and I always suggest that because the more specific these can be the better. But that alone is not much of a secret. The secret is that one of the newer features for company profiles is a Products & Services tab that is just waiting for you to load not only your products and services but recommendations for each.
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babies telling secrets

"You're not going to believe this!"

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The detail that shows up in this section, in addition to the actual recommendation, is a photo of the individual who did the recommending. Also, when you scroll over that person's photo, what pops up is their "30-Second Bumper Sticker" information (name, degree of connection to you, Headline, region of the country, and most recent job entry). The more smiling faces that show up here the better.
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What a great page to send prospective clients to so they can check out specific information about your products and services (you can even include video) but also to display a roster of your fans and their comments about you and your products and services. You never know--they may just know someone on that list. Think that won't sell them?
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3.  The number of recommendations you have and the keywords included in those recommendations are part of the ranking hierarchy in the LinkedIn "secret sauce."

LinkedIn has shared with us that a couple of the important components of the "secret sauce" recipe (who gets picked up in a search and how high they appear) is the number of recommendations and the keywords that people are searching by and for. You don't have to like this or agree with it--just understand it and then make it work for you.
Action step: Go out and get lots of recommendations loaded with your most important keywords, and it will help you move up in the search rankings when people may be looking for you.

4.  Reading recommendations can give you insight into how people think.

This one came to be from one of my former job-seeker friends (notice I said "former"), and it goes like this.
Prior to an interview, she reviewed the recommendations the interviewer had written for others. From this she learned that the interviewer appreciates attention to detail. Armed with this insight, my friend made a point of sharing with the interviewer all the wonderful real-life example she had that pointed out her attention to detail. She got the job!
This same thought process can be used by any of us who is trying to get some insight into what people think are the most important attributes not only for the employer/employee relationship but how about the salesperson/customer relationship?
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5.  Recommendations are one of the fuels of this new Trust Economy.

Here is the thought. Think back ten or fifteen years, pre-Internet. Our process for making a buying decision was lots of phone calls, meetings, brochures, proposals, interviews, presentations, more interviews, more presentations, etc. by almost every potential vendor in the market. These were the steps we had to take to figure out how to select the vendor of choice.
Now think of how we do these steps in the age of the Internet:
Google, Google, and more Google.
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I am not saying that all those previous steps I mentioned are not still a part of the process, but those steps probably start with a smaller number of vendors based on the work we did on the Internet. By reviewing company websites, recommendation websites, shopping comparison websites, blogs, and all the other social media sites, we are able to eliminate competitors before we ever actually contact them.
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Let me close this already long tip with a comment I know several of you are thinking.

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"Sure, Wayne, but all those recommendations you got are written by people who like your products and services. No one ever writes a bad one, and if they did you wouldn't let it be posted on your profile anyway."

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Stop and think about what you just said and ask yourself, "Would you want all those recommendations on your competitors' profiles instead of yours?"