Don’t Burn Your Personal Brand: Earn Your Online Recommendations

Burn Your Personal BrandToday, I received another request for a recommendation to someone I am connected to on LinkedIn… from a person I’ve never worked in a way that allows me to comment on their abilities first-hand.

I don’t get it. Why do people put their personal brand in jeopardy with such a thoughtless click?

When you ask for a recommendation from me, and I have no knowledge of your abilities, a terrible thing happens: You look pathetic. Desperate, even.

A relative pulled the same trick on me about a year ago. He’s been struggling in a job search and is well into his 70s, having lost his retirement in previously bad investments. So I helped him with his résumé and cover letter. Then he asked the same thing.

“Will you recommend me?”

My answer: “No.”

He was angry. Hurt. He felt betrayed.

But I stuck to my moral guns. I had not seen his skills in action, and had no ethical way of providing objective, integrity-based feedback. So no, I wasn’t going to recommend the relative.

Most important: his ask, then not accepting my reason for not doing so only served to validate my reluctance: based on the ethics I saw demonstrated in those conversations, he is not someone I would do business with… let alone recommend to others.

Now back to the LinkedIn invite I just got… I replied back, and hope the person who sent it is receptive to helpful suggestions to enable them to do a better job of selecting the people that they ask for recommendations.

Here’s my response:

“Thank you for sending this invite to me, but as I have never worked with you directly on a meeting planning project nor booked business with you directly, I am not qualified to write a review.

Please understand that the best recommendations come from colleagues, industry peers with whom you’ve worked, former bosses, or other people who have first-hand knowledge of your work. These folks can write specifics about your integrity, skills, expertise, knowledge, and abilities.

By reaching out to people who have never worked with you, this dilutes your efforts and personal brand by making a generalized plea for a recommendation. This also has the effect of making an “ask” people to extend their credibility to you, whether you realize it or not, and can be very uncomfortable for the recipient of such requests.

I hope you take this career coaching in the spirit in which it is intended: to help guide you into asking for more powerful and compelling (and truthful based on first-hand experience) recommendations.”

Be careful who you ask for a recommendation. Your personal brand – your integrity – is at risk!





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Pathfinder Writing and Career Services!



Dawn Rasmussen 3About the Author: Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is the president of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, where she provides results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. She is the official “Get the Job” columnist for One+ Magazine distributed to over 26,000 meeting professionals worldwide, and, a job resource site for creative and marketing professionals. Dawn is also a recognized career expert on – a top 10 world-ranked career advice blog – and a regular contributor to’s weekly meeting #tchat on Twitter. Follow Dawn on Twitter!


Image courtesy of… thank you!



This entry was posted in Career Advice, LinkedIn, Networking, Personal Branding and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.