How to Write a Recommendation that Builds Your Credibility

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Traditionally, recommendations were written using a format that validated the credentials of the person writing them first, then talked about the recipient. These are very “me” focused in their approach and oh so 90s.

Blah blah blah…

Today's business recommendations require a new format to accommodate the new methods of how they are utilized. When you leverage this new format, it builds your credibility as the writer without having to spit out all your resume credentials and it puts the focus on the person who is receiving it…where it should be! This style is very “you” focused—with the “you” being the recipient of the recommendation.

Powerful Recommendations (or testimonials) now follow a very simple structure that can be expanded for more formal uses or condensed for online use. This is my three-step formula, WAG:

  1. WOW. A single WOW statement about the overall results that this person helped you accomplish. It’s the thing that took your breath away.
  2. ACHIEVE. How did the person do this, that to or for you that was different from others? This can include a process they put you through, specific realizations that you had along the way, and/or detailed numeric results that were achieved.
  3. GO. What specific action the reader of this recommendation should take—should they hire this person, work with their team, read their book? Be specific. Remember, a confused mind never buys. And, if someone is reading this recommendation, then they are trying to make a decision.

For LinkedIn Recommendations, or sharing recommendations (or testimonials) on social media you’ll want to target no more than two five-sentence paragraphs or three smaller paragraphs. This formula can easily be expanded into a traditional-style formal letter.

Did you notice that there is not a section about you as the writer? When this formula is done right, your credentials are revealed in the ACHIEVE section. When it’s not done right, the recommendation usually turns into a sales pitch for the writer, and the person who it is supposed to be about doesn’t benefit at all.

Now you’ve probably heard that the best recommendations come from you—meaning, if you want a good recommendation, write it yourself and send it to the person that you want to attach their name to. You can easily use this formula to do that. Use WAG to write your own recommendation, then send it to the person and give them permission to make any changes that they see fit. Usually, they will say it’s fine and BOOM you have an awesome recommendation.

When I collect recommendations for my business, I send this email:

Hey {NAME},
You may have noticed that I am in the process of updating my website. As part of this update, I would like to feature a testimonial from YOU! I figure why not feature the people that I wish I could clone for more business 
😊

I would also like to post this on LinkedIn so if you could target a longer testimonial (6-15 sentences), I can then post the long one on LinkedIn and the short one on my website.

If you are comfortable writing a testimonial, go ahead and write one. If, however, you would prefer some help I am happy to help. Since I don’t want to completely write the testimonials for you as I want to make sure that your voice is captured. Here are a few questions to get you started. Feel free to ramble and I will craft your answers into an actual testimonial. THANK YOU!

  • What was going on in your business that triggered you to hire me?
  • What were you looking to accomplish?  
  • What did we accomplish?  
  • What was it like working with me?  
  • What results did/have you received from working with me? (Think both numeric and non-numeric)  
  • Is there anything else you would like to highlight?

Usually, when I send this email to a client, I get about a half-page of random thoughts back. That gives me the opportunity to use the WAG formula to construct a powerful “I must hire her” testimonial. Then, I write both the long and short testimonial and send it back to my client for approval. Once they approve, I request a Recommendation on LinkedIn and include the recommendation that they just approved so all they have to do is copy and paste. This keeps the recommendation in their voice and channels it a powerful way that makes others decide to hire me.

If you would like to practice, send me the answers to the questions above and I’ll write your recommendation for you.