LinkedIn is a terrific resource for making new network connections, finding sales prospects, getting the word out about your product, and looking for employment opportunities. A well-written profile along with endorsements can go a long way toward helping you establish credibility and reach new contacts. However, as good as they are, the general LinkedIn tools are no substitute for personally written recommendations.
First of all, let’s remember the difference between an endorsement and a recommendation. An endorsement is a one-click checkmark-type confirmation that you are good at a particular skill. It’s a good thing to have, but it’s not comprehensive, and the person endorsing you can only choose from a pre-specified list of skills. A recommendation, on the other hand, is a written statement by one a person in your connection network. You can’t request that someone give you a particular endorsement, but you can reach out and request that someone you know offer their own personal recommendation.
The value of a LinkedIn recommendation is that it offers real insight into your product or capabilities. That means it’s important that your recommendations come from people who really know you. In other words, a general phrase (John rocks) or sentence (Mary is a really hard worker) by someone who you have only a passing acquaintance with won’t help much more than an endorsement. That means you should request recommendations only from people who can offer a genuine appraisal. Someone with whom you worked closely on a product development team will have much more to say about you as a professional than a fellow member of a social group!
LinkedIn has made it easy for its users to request recommendations. Just view a connection, choose “Request a Connection.” Select individuals who have genuine knowledge about your skills, products, or services. Recommendations are valuable commodities so you should take them seriously. If you are beginning a self-promotion strategy that includes soliciting recommendations, gather them over time. Your recommendations will include a time stamp so blanket bombing your address book may not be the best way to go about it. Start with the people who know you best and work your way through your list bit by bit.
Written recommendations can go a long way in making your profile more robust and authoritative. Those who offer them are putting their name on the line for you. Be sure to say thank you! Remember, you don’t have to be asked when it comes to offering recommendations so don’t hesitate to pay it forward by offering your recommendation in return.
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Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and the tools to manage them.
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Recommendations and word-of-mouth are still the most powerful way to gain new clients. Unfortunately, that recommendation won’t happen unless you encourage them to tell your story. After you complete a project for a client, ask for a recommendation, referral or testimony. This shares your story with your audience on what it’s like to work with you.
If the idea of asking for a recommendation, referral or testimony makes you uncomfortable, remember this: people won’t give their referrals or recommendations unless they love the work you do for them. Most people don’t even consider giving them because they don’t know what they are. Here are some great ways to break the ice and get the love from your happy clients…without coming off as sleazy or pushy.
Referrals can also come from other businesses. Set up a referral business with a complementary company. If you are in the web design business, for instance, you could set up a referral service with a hosting company you trust. That way you can both offer incentives and discounts to encourage additional business. If you’re not sure where to begin, think about the additional services your clients and customers need once they’re working with you.
Another way to gain referrals is by setting up a commission. If you’ve ever signed up for an affiliate program, you’ve done this already. Amazon does it and so do many successful entrepreneurs. A person who has signed up for your commission program shares your product or service. They have a special signup code or affiliate link to provide their viewers, customers, etc. Once a person takes your offer through their connection, the referral member gains a reward. It can be a percentage of sales, product discounts, or free products after so many referrals.
Make it easy for your clients and customers to leave recommendations and testimonies by creating an easy-to-navigate system. Setting up an online form through your website, for instance, really makes it simple, and gives them time to formulate their testimonies. You can provide a sample template to get them started.
Treat your clients as partners and key players in the success of your business. They want to know they’re important to you. So let them know how much you appreciate them!
Here are some excellent moments to ask for referrals, testimonials, and recommendations:
You are in the business of helping people, and the people you help want to share that experience. Making it easier for them to do so helps you both in the long run. Someone out there needs your help, and an awesome story about your company may be exactly what gets them to you.
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Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Google+,YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and the tools to manage them.
Influence and word-of-mouth are cornerstones to your credibility. This builds social proof. Social proof is the social pressure for consumers to purchase a product or service based on the reviews and influence of others. The more social proof you have, the more customers and clients you’ll gain. It becomes easier as the social proof increases.
But how do you gain a robust social proof?
You gain it through testimonials, ratings and reviews, influencer endorsements, media logos, certifications, subscriber counts, social connections, social shares, clients, and case studies.
A testimonial is a statement made by a customer or consumer that provides an objective viewpoint. This “outsider influence” is something you’ll see more of in this list. It’s important to note that testimonials involve stories about how your product or service bettered their lives in some way. It’s similar, but not the same, as reviews.
Ratings and Reviews
Think about the last time you purchased something online. If the rating was available, did you look at it? Did it influence your buying decision? Of course it did. And if reviews were available, you likely read a few of those as well. The scoring system of a rating is a powerful influence in social proof. A review usually accompanies a rating. The greater your number of ratings and reviews, the more power it holds over the viewing public.
Influencer Endorsements aren’t the same as testimonials. An influencer is a well-known person or business who has a heavy social media following. A mention of your business, product, or service can cause an instant rise in social proof. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, as your willingness to connect with them builds their credibility. Keep in mind that their reputation is just as important as yours.
You’ve noticed these before, and likely didn’t realize it. “As seen on…” is an excellent example. It’s important to note, you can only use these media logos if you’ve actually appeared on their networks, in their paper, etc. Misrepresentation of your credentials will destroy the credibility you’ve tried so hard to develop.
Certifications and Case Studies
Certifications and case studies are professional endorsements of your credibility. They prove your expertise, and therefore increase your social proof.
Subscriber Counts, Social Connections, and Social Shares
All of these combined build a pressing need to go along with the crowd. Like reviews and testimonials, the more you have, the more you’ll gain. It may take five years to get 10k subscribers, but the next 10k could take one or less. The more influence you have socially, the more people accept your credibility.
Clients and Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is still as strong as ever. People are more influenced by those they know than those they don’t. If a happy client spreads the word about your work, social proof will naturally follow.
Now you know the best ways to build your social proof. Building momentum is key to successfully enhancing your credibility. Take the time to do it right, and you’ll be #AwesomeInSocial.
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Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and the tools to manage them.