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Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

June 19, 2019
Question

A former colleague asked me to endorse him on LinkedIn – but I REALLY don’t want to. How do I say “no” without sounding like a jerk?

answer
Julie Q. Brush

There are varying opinions about the value of LinkedIn recommendations. Some professionals believe they are a must. Others prefer to cash in their testimonial chits elsewhere. Regardless of where your opinion may fall on this spectrum, no professional with a LinkedIn profile is immune to a recommendation request. And when this request comes, a quick thought process occurs with questions and answers that lead to a conclusion of “yes I will”…or “no I won’t”. Questions that include: (1) What’s my connection to this person? (2) How well do I know him/her? (2) How highly do I regard this person? (3) Does this person’s character and quality of work merit my recommendation? (4) Do I want my name, reputation and/or endorsement associated with this person?

If your path of mental inquiry leads you to the destination of “no”, then what’s the best way to deliver this message without coming off as rude, unsupportive and unfriendly? While saying “no” can be…and usually is a very uncomfortable thing for people to do, it can be less painful if you choose the right message and tone. Below are a few examples:

Sample #1
“Ron, thanks for your message, it’s great to hear from you. Thank you for your thoughtful request – I’m very flattered. Given that we didn’t work closely together, I wouldn’t be able to put together a meaningful enough recommendation that I think would be effective for LinkedIn. As a hiring manager, I’ve found that endorsements from managers and/or internal and external clients have the most impact on LinkedIn. So I would recommend a few targeted recommendations from those colleagues to maximize the impact of your profile. Best of luck! Andrew”

Sample #2
“Hi Chris, I hope all is well and you are enjoying life at Company/Firm X. Thank you for thinking of me regarding your LinkedIn recommendation. I would love to help, but I refrain from writing LinkedIn recs for several professional reasons. I am very flattered though – and wish you the best of luck! Best, Anne”

Sample #3
“Susan, thank you for your LinkedIn recommendation request. I hope you have been well. Unfortunately, I’m unable to provide a recommendation at this time. A few suggestions of other people who would be great to contact are: Bob Smith, Mary Smith, or Chris Smith. If any other names come to mind, I will get in touch. Best Regards, Sam”

And what about not responding at all? Is just ignoring the request ok?

No.

If a former colleague reaches out to you with a request, responding to his/her message is not only the professionally courteous thing to do…it’s the right thing to do. While it may be tempting for a busy professional to blow off the message, doing so can leave a negative impression that can taint your reputation. So take the time…and respond.

Saying “no” – to anything – gracefully is an art. And while a professional will convey this negative message hundreds…sometimes thousands of times in a career, it rarely, if ever becomes an enjoyable endeavor. So as you face this dynamic again, choose your words and tone wisely and provide the courtesy of a thoughtful response.

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