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One of the most powerful types of “social proof” (testaments to your professional strengths) hiring managers can see is a great recommendation on your LinkedIn profile.

And people who like you well enough to be willing to write a recommendation for you do sincerely want to help you out!

But actually getting that recommendation written for you? That’s where things tend to fall apart….

Why did they say yes, then never follow through?
One of the most common outcomes of asking people for LinkedIn recommendations is they enthusiastically respond that they’d be happy to, but then they never get it done. The result? You’re left in the awkward situation of trying to figure out whether or not to remind them of your request, which was probably a bit difficult to make the first time around.

Why would people agree to write you a LinkedIn recommendation and then not follow through? It’s not because they don’t honestly think you’re terrific and someone they’d like to heartily recommend, it’s just that writing a recommendation can be so….challenging.

Tell them what you’d like them to say
The reality is that even your most passionate advocates may have a tough time knowing what to say about you, or coming up with the right language. And let’s face it, most people find writing to be challenging, if not intimidating, under the best of circumstances.

So your job is to help make things simple for them by providing ideas of what to write about and how to write it.

The easiest way to do this is to include the relevant information in your request for an recommendation. For example, your request might say:

John, I’m working on building my LinkedIn presence, and wondered if you’d be willing to write me a brief recommendation based on our work together at on the Colorado Community Development project. Specifically, if you feel comfortable doing so, it would be great if you could mention my ability to organize a diverse group of volunteers to achieve project goals and my project management skills, which enabled us to deliver our key community programs on time and under budget. I’d be happy to write a recommendation for you as well; which of your many strengths and areas of expertise would you particularly like me to comment on?

This approach gives them enough guidance and specific language to be able to quickly whip out a recommendation without having to struggle with what to say or how to say it. And this way they won’t have to worry about doing a recommendation that doesn’t really hit the mark for you, which means they won’t have to stress out about letting your down.

Should you follow up after a first request?
If you’ve asked someone for a recommendation and they agreed but not provided one, should you follow up and remind them? Generally, that depends on who the person is and the nature of your relationship. If it’s a friend with whom you have a mutually supportive, good relationship, then a gentle reminder is probably just fine. If, on the other hand, the request was made to someone who’s a “higher up” that you don’t already have a longstanding friendship with, it may not be not worth following up.

But if you take the time to be specific with your original request, you’ll make it a lot likelier that those recommendations come in as promised.