Ah, one of the messages you’re most likely to receive on LinkedIn: The request to tell everyone else that this person is awesome.
Subject: Can you endorse me?
I’m sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work that I can include in my LinkedIn profile. If you have any questions, let me know.
Thanks in advance for helping me out.
I love writing professional recommendations. More meaningful than the newer yet addictive skills-endorsing, it gives me a chance to give back to persons who have helped make my career life better or just are rising stars in their own right. If I’m not initiating the endorsement myself, I’m happy to be asked to give one.
So the fact that I was sent such a request isn’t the problem. Though it’s a bit disappointing that the person didn’t bother customizing the stock message, that isn’t the problem either.
The problem was I’d never worked with this person before.
I wasn’t sure about that at first. I have a lot of real work connections, but I’ve also found other great people and resources through similar interests.
As my number of connections has increased both organically and through networking, so have a few natural pitfalls, one of which was happening right now. (Note: Power networker Katie Felten suggests keeping notes about each person to refresh your memory as to how and why you’ve connected. I need to do this.)
Yet surely someone I hadn’t worked with wouldn’t send me this request? All I could think was this person could have been one of the many offshore consultants on a long-term project I was involved in several companies ago.
Rather than assume, I just asked.
Hi–can you refresh my memory as to when and where we worked professionally together?
I received this response:
You are right Becky!! We didn’t work personally / professionally anywhere, I want to work with you, I would like to learn things from you (Social Media Things, etc…)
Whoa! If I give just one piece of advice today, it’s this: Don’t ever send a message like this. Not to a stranger, not to an acquaintance, not to a friend, not to a family member.
My real piece of advice is, of course, that just because you can send a “Can you endorse me?” message doesn’t always mean you should.
I know people are desperate in the job-seeking world. I’ve been there several times over the past few years, don’t want to return, and hope to help people who find themselves in it.
Yet asking for a recommendation should never be about clicking a button. You need to make sure you have a real relationship or are building one, which even though it is professional, should include trust. For even though this is a professional recommendation, it’s also a personal endorsement where you’re staking your own reputation on telling everyone that yes, this person is worth having on your team, and you’d be crazy not to recognize that.
As for this situation, I could give concrete advice, acting on the assumption that this person truly doesn’t know any better.
Or I could just walk away and let that be the lesson.
What would you do?