I’m constantly reading great articles discussing how to utilize LinkedIn to make connections and market my company. These articles often provide a pragmatic, step-wise approach to build a more engaging profile, or connect with people through groups. But I’ve yet to read a compelling article or blog post that discusses the importance of recommendations on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has offered the recommendations functionality for as long as I’ve know what LinkedIn is. I expected an emphasis on recommendations given that it’s really the only element of a LinkedIn profile the owner can’t manipulate. In other words, recommendations should be an objective way to measure the quality of a person you find on LinkedIn, right? That’s how I see it.
Does LinkedIn consider recommendations in their search results?
Do a Google search on that and you’ll find there’s basically nobody asking this question or attempting to answer it. Why is that?
By the way, the answer is no, not really. LinkedIn does not appear to care about recommendations when presenting search results. We conducted a study of several LinkedIn searches and found that there’s absolutely no correlation between the number of recommendations and search rankings. In fact, several searches return top ranking profiles that have no recommendations at all.
From our research it’s clear that LinkedIn returns search results based mostly on relevance. That makes sense. We’ve also determined that LinkedIn uses a person’s number of connections as a strong factor in search ranking. Again, not a big surprise. Top ranking profiles have an average of 391 connections. But those same profiles have only 6 recommendations each on average. That seems like a staggeringly low number to me. If I ever have almost 400 connections I expect that more than 6 of them would recommend me. In fact, my profile has more than 6 recommendations now with only 69 connections.
Should you care how many recommendations you have?
So LinkedIn doesn’t care how many recommendations you have. Should you? Short answer… yes! You should care about both the quantity and quality of your recommendations. Having many connections and few recommendations probably looks odd to people who find your profile. It indicates your ability to network and promote yourself (at least virtually), but possibly an inability to deliver in a way that satisfies your customers and partners. It’s sort of like having 3,000 Facebook friends. That’s great, but are they really your friends or just an empty statistic?
So what’s the magic ratio?
Relative to your connection count, how many recommendations should you have? You want your LinkedIn profile to create trust and convert interested parties. Making connections is important, but there needs to be a greater emphasis on recommendations. If you have 500+ connections and 6 recommendations I’m really not impressed. In fact, I assume you talk a great game but you can’t deliver.
There is no magic ratio, especially since LinkedIn’s search algorithms appear not to consider recommendations. Hopefully that will change, but for now I think 10% is a good place to start. Yes, you read that correctly. If you have 400 connections you should have at least 40 recommendations. In our research, we came across hundreds of profiles with 500+ connections, but the highest recommendation count we saw was 31. What’s your ratio and what do you think the goal should be?