People Technology

The Definitive Guide to LinkedIn Recommendations

LinkedIn is the biggest business social network in the world. It allows you to post up a snapshot of your career and connect with relevant professionals plus a whole bunch of other cool stuff. If you don’t have an account, you should get one today.

There are many different ways LinkedIn can be used to further your business or career. This post focuses on recommendations.

What are LinkedIn Recommendations?

LinkedIn has a recommendation system that allows someone to send you a recommendation and have it displayed on your profile to the public world. This system is great and can be used in the same manner as either a reference check or a testimonial only better.

The reason this system is better than traditional testimonials plastered over your website or a letter from a former boss is the reference is connected to that person’s profile. So whoever is interested in your recommendations can track them back instantly and see who recommended you and how respectable they are.

Another great thing about LinkedIn recommendations (as with other benefits of LinkedIn) is that they will last your whole life. A little work now will go a long way later.

What about Fake Recommendations?

When I talk to people about LinkedIn recommendations, a constant response I get is “don’t people just make them up or get their buddies to recommend them? How valuable are they really?”. To this I answer, “yes, they probably do”.

Here’s the catch. The recommendation system of LinkedIn reconciles itself. If I recommend you, it is displayed on my profile that I recommended you. If I’m trying to build my personal brand and you’re a total douche bag, I’m not going to recommend you.  Yes, some people may get recommendations that are illegitimate, but you can usually sus them out. Here are some situations that may raise suspicion:

– 5 people in similar positions, all recommended by the other 4.

– Recommendations from people with inactive or incomplete profiles.

– All recommendations on the same or close dates

If you have recommendations from over 20 people, most who work in respectable jobs and who have something to loose from a negative personal brand, chances are they are going to be legitimate recommendations. Even if all those 20 people are your friends, you still must be a decent person to have 20 respectable people like you enough as friends to recommend you. And in that alone I believe there is merit.

Now if you can get recommendations from super valuable people, even better. How do you think traceable recommendations from Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Donald Trump would look?

P.S. If anybody knows them, tell them to hit me up!

How do I Get People to Recommend Me?

There are two key ways I have gotten recommendations.

The first, is basically working with the buddy system I talked about above. These are people I had a good working relationship with at some point and asked them if we could swap recommendations. I knew I was good at my job, I also knew they were good at theirs so it was mutually beneficial to swap recommendations.  A cheeky message of “write me a recommendation and ill write you one back” is easy to do and is win-win. But remember, you’re putting your personal brand on the line, so don’t ask people who you genuinely don’t think are good at whatever they do.

The second way, and the more effective way is to ask someone for a recommendation as soon as you deliver some sort of value to them. For example, if you are a designer or freelancer and you deliver a good project to a client and they are happy with it, ask them for a recommendation. Make sure you do this straight after you deliver the work as it will still be fresh in their mind.

For me, I was a head-hunter, so every time I placed someone in a job or found a client their perfect candidate, I would ask for a recommendation. You won’t get them every time you ask, but if you have done a good job, and they are happy, it’s not a big favour to ask.

Here is the structure I use to build my connections and ask for recommendations.

When I first interacted with someone new for work, whether on the phone, in person or via email I would send them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

(Quick tip: you can send a message to someone with a free account by sending them an invitation with a short note attached. This saves you from having to pay to upgrade your account to send ‘inmails’ to people who you are not connected with)

“Hi xxx

It was great meeting you / speaking with you today.

I would like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

Look forward to working with you in the future.



Keep it simple, and non-specific. But making sure you have everyone you’re working with on your network, the ones you do add value to are already there so asking for the recommendation down the line easier.

Once you have delivered value of some sort, bring up a recommendation in a meeting. Here is an example of a conversation I’ve had after delivering value:

XYZ: Vinay, I just want to say thanks for finding me this job. It’s working out really well.

Me: No problems, XYZ, glad to hear you’re happy there. I want you to make sure you call me if there are any problems or if there is anything I can do to help.

XYZ: Ok no problems, I will talk to you soon.

Me: Oh, XYZ, there is one thing I thought of just before you go

XYZ: Oh what’s that?

Me: Well… I’ve done a pretty good job helping you out right?

XYZ: Yes of course!

Me: Well I was wondering if you could do me a small favour. It will only take a few minutes.

XYZ: Sure

Me: I was wondering if you could write me a recommendation on LinkedIn. We are already connected and it would really mean a lot.

XYZ: Sure Vinay, no problems. Give me a few days and I will send one out.

Give them 1-2 days to write the recommendation. If they haven’t done it after 2 days, go into your LinkedIn account, into recommendations and send them a “request for recommendation” message. A default template will come up, just use that. If they still don’t do it after a few days, you will need to use your judgement to decide how much you will chase them. If they are a super busy important high value person, probably best to give them a significant amount of time. Like I said, use your judgement.

The “request for recommendation” message will stay highlighted in their account until they action it. I have had recommendations come through months after I sent the message, so it really is a case by case basis.

So I have recommendations, now what?

Recommendations are the most powerful tool LinkedIn has to offer if you chose to use your profile for sales pitches or as your central web profile. One you have obtained recommendations from respectable people, your profile becomes a powerful tool to give people a positive first impression of you. This is useful for job interviews, sales pitches basically any-time you meet a stranger you want to get something out of.

As an example, I recently applied and was accepted to attend TEDxBKK. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend due to a last minute schedule change, but in the application process they asked for an online profile that would teach them something more about me. This was before I had my blog up and running so I used my LinkedIn profile. I’m almost certain this is what got me the invite to the oversubscribed event.

So what are you waiting for? Recommend me for my recommendation to get recommendations!


Vancouver Winter Olympics – Lines, Houses and Hockey

Vancouver is an interesting city. In general there is nothing spectacular about it but there is nothing you can really put as a negative either. It’s kind of ‘neutral’ – which why I find it interesting. There are few cities I have been to that I would class as ‘neutral’. There is lots of natural beauty, a positive but the weather is average, a negative. Groceries are cheap, a positive, beer is expensive, a negative. During the 2010 Winter Olympics however, there is a unique buzz.

In terms of organisation and controlling logistics, I would say Canada did an average job. There is minimal information available on transport, pricing, events both sporting and cultural. Maybe there is information, just not much on the first page of Google, which is usually as far as I look. Either their information sucks or their SEO specialists suck, either way, not too impressed. Busses have arrived at events up to 90 minutes late, people have had their tickets refunded due to badly designed venues and there was no backup plan in case Mother Nature didn’t deliver the required snow for the various events (which she didn’t). But to be fair, organising the Winter Olympics is probably more difficult than the summer. Everything needs to be frozen!

I understand the difficulties associated with the various sporting events, but one true complaint I have is about the lines for everything else. You seriously have to line up for everything! The houses, the bottle shops, the shows, for pizza, for the train, there is a line for everything… I don’t have a genius solution for this problem, just venting.

But there are definitely positives too. The tens of thousands of people that have flocked here for the Olympics have seriously given this place a buzz, especially in the nights. The downtown streets are alive (pending weather) with people. Red and white are the colours of the moment, with people sporting flags as capes, red maple leaves as hats and usually some form of red face paint.

The second positive fallout from the Olympics are the houses. For those that don’t know, there are a number of countries who set up what are called ‘houses’ to promote their countries, host their natives and get people drunk. There is the Russian House trying to convince people to attend the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, houses from the major Canadian states and other random houses such as the Irish, German and Holland Heineken which I think are there just to get people really really drunk. The houses are either temporary structures built over open spaces such as car parks or non-alcoholic venues converted like Science World.

They have interactive events during the day, lots of cool Winter Olympic virtual stuff resembling the such as virtual ice hockey, speed skating and snowboarding. Historic facts and shows on the Winter Olympics. Cultural displays from the relative countries and various things for kids to do. Then at 8pm they kick out all the kids, bring on music of some sort and turn into massive parties in excess of 3000 people!

One of the main notables of Canada is their love of ice hockey. I’m pretty sure this is a well known fact but Canadians seriously love hockey. Most people would sacrifice a limb of some sort to see their country win gold (which they did and went nuts over!). I’ve seen hockey games on the main downtown street at midnight. Hockey games played by 5 year olds. Hockey sticks replacing walking sticks. Hockey in parks, back yards, on streets, in cars, frigin hockey everywhere! It’s so infectious, that every expat I have met has been converted. It’s like a living breathing entity that consumes you. Pretty weird. I imagine it’s like soccer/futball/football in South America or the UK.

I’ve had a great time here, it’s fun partying with people from all over the world and the buzz of any city hosting the Olympics is going to be great. But I think to get a true feeling of what the city is like I will need to spend some non-Olympic time here.


Outbound Flights… F*&k!

I can’t believe this has happened to me twice in the last 6 weeks. First from Sydney into Bangkok, then from Bangkok to Vancouver. Both Jetstar and China Airlines wouldn’t let me on the flight without having an outbound ticket from the country.

As an Australian, I am allowed to stay 30 days in Thailand without a visa, and 6 months in Canada. 6 months!!! How can they expect me to have an outbound ticket if I may leave within the next 6 months!

I understand the logic, kinda. I understand that if people don’t have an outbound ticket, there is the possibility that they may jump ship and stay in the country. But if someone is running away from their country to start a new illegal life and they have the money to buy a ticket, do you think that’s going to stop them? Do you think that they may just not get on that flight?

When I was in Sydney dealing with Jetstar they blatantly told me over the counter “we can book you a refundable ticket, and for a $40 fee you can get a refund when you land in Thailand” – so that’s what I did. Big deterrent if I was trying to stay illegally in the country – ohh no, not a $40 cancellation fee. To my amazing frustration, once I landed in BKK, nobody checked to see if I had an outbound ticket.. I just got my bag and walked off. Very annoying.

In Bangkok (I’m sitting in the airport drinking away my frustration) I bought a ticket out of Canada to England. So I’m not sure if they will check in Canada about my outbound flight but if I’m allowed to stay 6 months – I highly doubt they will.

(Edit: Canada did check my ticket. They actually screened me quite thoroughly. It seems countries think it’s weird when someone is travelling with no exact plans or job.)

Luckily I’m in Canada for training and need to be in Sudan in a month’s time so have some dates to work with and the ticket will get used. I would have liked a little more time than the 1 hour and 300b per hour internet to find and book a ticket tho.

It pisses me off how they let you book the one way ticket on the internet with no notification until you are checking in that you need an outbound ticket.

I need to find a way to get around this… I was thinking maybe I could have bought a cheap bus ticket into the US? Or maybe just taken an old flight confirmation email edited the dates and locations in word to fake I had a flight? (Edit: I don’t think this is a very good idea now)

The China Airlines “supervisor” said that it was immigration law and that the airlines can get fined if I don’t have a ticket. I think that’s a load of crock. (Edit: It’s actually the truth) But when your flight leaves in 2 hours, you don’t really have much choice.

Anyone know and sneaky tactics to get around this?


I’m Such a Flashpacker…

The hot sticky air of Bangkok only added to my frustration as I searched my belongings for the illusive memory card reader. I still haven’t found it… But that was the day, after I ripped every electronic related item from my bag and dumped them on the floor I realised… I’m such a flashpacker.

Flashpacking, according to Wikipedia:

Flashpacking is a neologism used to refer to an affluent backpacker. Whereas backpacking is traditionally associated with budget travel and destinations that are relatively cheap, flashpacking has an association of more disposable income while travelling and has been defined simply as backpacking with a bigger budget.

A simple definition of the term Flashpacker can be thought of as backpacking with flash, or style. One school of thought defines the flashpacker as a rapidly growing segment of travellers who adhere to a modest accommodation and meal budget, while spending freely, even excessively, for activities at their chosen destination. Another school of thought defines flashpacking as an incongruous mix of ‘slumming it’ and luxury; of adventurous travel with those on a budget by day and sedate dining and comfortable accommodation by night. Flashpackers have been further defined as tech-savvy adventurers who often prefer to travel with a cell phone, digital camera, iPod and a laptop, although none of these is required in order to be a flashpacker. As with other forms of travel, the term flashpacker is mainly one of self-identification. The origin of the term itself is obscure.

The term also reflects a growing demographic of travellers who are forsaking traditional organized travel, venturing to destinations once the reserve of more adventurous backpackers, and the increasing number of individuals who leave well paid jobs or take ‘career breaks’, using the time to travel independently, but with greater comfort and many of the gadgets they are accustomed to at home. As a result, hostels are evolving and offering more up-market accommodation and facilities to those still travelling on a budget in order to obtain their business. Hostels have realized a need to evolve in order to meet the changing demands of travellers.

I don’t spend money on expensive hotels (I try to keep to $20 AUD per night max) and I often stay in a hostels for cheaper. But if I am staying for a longer period, I will look for WIFI.

I’ll happily eat on the street for $1-2, but I’ll spend $20-$40 drinking in a fancy bar.

I don’t mind local buses, but if I need to be somewhere in a hurry I will fly.

My Cable Collection

I personally think these traits are similar to many individuals that class themselves as “backpackers”. The main difference I see between me and them is the number of cables I carry and the emotional ties I have to them…

The whole mobility / digital nomad / location independence movement has spawned many flashpackers and these numbers are only growing with technology advances and as more start to earn a living on the road.

But there is the argument that if you’re carrying the proverbial baggage that is your precious electronics, it can restrict you from the ‘full experience’ of travel. To this point, I would have to agree. I take precautions because of my electronics and desire to work on the road which restrict me. I’m also waay to attached to my electronics – not healthy.

Final thought

I can’t say for sure what the best way to travel is, each to their own I guess.

But I ask you this:

Does one experience more, travelling while working for 12 months or working at home for 11 months and travelling for 1?


Why LinkedIn is Awesome and you Need an Account Today!

It only takes one person to change your life.

Plenty of people dont see the value of LinkedIn. They Say its crap and they never use it because they cant post photos of last weekends dress up party where they attended as a “tranny in custody”.

LinkedIn has many benefits, and yes, it’s true it may be more useful for certain professions such as sales, recruitment and entrepreneurs. But there is one undeniable benefit that should make it mandatory for everyone with even a smidgen of ambition: Networking.

I know that sounds dumb. After all it’s a networking tool. But many – especially 20 something’s – don’t see the potential.

Think of LinkedIn like a retirement fund. The earlier you start the more valuable it becomes.

Take a hypothetical case study:

You’re 21 and in your first job. In your department, there are 15 people you interact with on a regular basis.

You open your account and connect with those 15 people.


  • Blue men = Connections
  • Red man = You

During your time at this company (average 2-5 years) the people you work with start to move on to different companies – presumably in a similar industry. After a few years, your network will look like this:

Now you have contacts in 8 different companies (including yours) that you can use as referees, for market information or to help you get a job in their new company (more on how to use your connections in the future).

Pre-LinkedIn you may have stayed in touch with a few colleagues, but inevitably some would drop off your radar and become unreachable.

After 4-5 years you decide to move on.

You take a job at Company I and start working with 15 shiny new colleagues who join your network.

As the years move on these people leave and join new companies. While that is happening, colleagues from Company A are still moving about.

Suddenly, you have contacts in 17 companies. Remember, these are people you have worked with and know on a personal level. Even if you don’t speak with them for a couple of years, it’s easy to reinitiate contact. You will have their email and the company they work for. You can easily call reception and get transferred.

Trying to track all these people without LinkedIn is starting to become difficult, even for the most socially proficient individuals.

Then, as time moves on, you take your third job.

Another 15 shiny new connections join your network.

During this time, your previous colleagues continue to move in their careers, taking promotions and joining companies you may have never heard of.

Here’s where it becomes messy.

Are you really going to bother to track movements of all of your past colleagues? I know I wouldn’t, even with the knowledge I have. LinkedIn does it all for you.

The best part? Using it in a simplistic capacity like this is about 5 hours per year of work.

Adding new colleagues to your network and updating your profile with promotions and job changes. That’s all. 5 hours per year for a lifetime network. You’d be a fool not to…

Now consider adding your friends, peers from university, 50 colleagues per company and you change companies every 3 years for 30 years.

The numbers start to inflate. People change countries and industries. You build yourself a global network. Happy days.

Remember, just because you are not ‘using’ it doesn’t mean it’s not valuable and the longer you wait, the more likely those early connections will slip through the cracks.

So what are you waiting for? Join today! And while you’re at it, add me as a connection.

D-Day: The DTR Talk (Determine the Relationship)

Being the typical, young, male, commitment-phobe I am, I’ve had a few of these conversations. Some went better than others. All were uncomfortable. If I only knew…

Firstly I want to highlight I am no love doctor or dating coach, but relationships are an important factor of lifestyle design. More so for the location independent worker or globetrotter, as many people you meet won’t have your level of flexibility.

New Love

Ahh, new love, is there anything more exciting? The first few days, weeks or months after a chance encounter leads to meeting someone new and exciting. The first eye-gaze, the first joke, the first kiss, the first time you [adult reference]. Days filled with flirty text messages, stories, teasing and laughter. In the office it’s easy to spot. Cheeky grins and chuckles while typing an ‘important email’ – definitive signs of a flirty conversation. These days or weeks can become some of your fondest memories until…


D-Day: the day of the Determine the Relationship (DTR) conversation. This is the talk where your potential partner drops a question like “what’s happening between us?”, “where this is going?” or “my friends have been asking me about my relationship status on Facebook?”. You know it’s coming, but you never know just quite when, where or how. Sometimes it’ll be as obvious as a smack in the face, sometimes as subtle as… something really subtle. Typically face-to-face, occasionally on the phone – I’ve even had one over txt (gen-y in action) but it is bound to come.  Depending on how things are going so far and your situation in life, this conversation can be a huge weight off your chest or the uncomfortable moment you’ve been dreading. Either way, it’s an inevitable and important talk that will set foundations for the relationship and should not be overlooked.


Every relationship is different. People need to look inside at what they feel and outside at their circumstance before making a decision, but there are a few things you can do to make things smoother.

  1. Be Prepared. It’s going to happen sooner or later. Just knowing its coming will stop you being caught off guard.
  2. Control the environment. Don’t let an argument or a fight spark the conversation. Try to avoid having it in public or when you might be interrupted (like in the morning before work). If the environment isn’t right, move it. Tell them you understand this is an important conversation but you don’t feel this is the right time and place. Set a new time and place, somewhere you won’t be distracted.
  3. Be honest. Relationships are tricky. Sometimes you just don’t know. And deciding if you want to commit to someone is a massive decision. So if you don’t know where your head or your heart is, be honest. Talk through what you like and don’t like about the relationship. Talk through your life situation and the things that may be holding you back. If you’re not sure, say so. It’s unfair on the other person to be vague or deceptive because you need more time to figure things out.
  4. Accept the outcome. Usually this conversation will finish with 1 of 3 outcomes. Either you move forward with your relationship, you continue as things are to reassess in the future or you part ways to look for greener pastures. Whatever the case, be mature and accept the outcome. Don’t have a hissy fit if it doesn’t work out like your dreams (her offering a no strings attached relationship and all her friends are invited / him proposing while doing the dishes and calling your mum).
  5. Understand the outcome can change. Remember, whatever happens, you can usually change it. Sometimes, losing someone is the only way you realise how much you care for them (or how much they annoy you).

Ever had a weird, funny or scary DTR talk?