Don’t Suck. Be A True Champion.

Smack down! Yep, I had a day last week where I felt smacked down by someone’s refusal to champion me on LinkedIn.

Yeah, you read that right. I was denied. I’ll probably be denied again… I get it that some people don’t feel comfortable making testimonials, endorsements or even “liking” us. And that’s okay.

But I’m not one who is frequent in making “the ask”. So I thought I’d get out of my comfort zone and do what I coach —

Make the Ask

I sent a “will you recommend me” note on LinkedIn to about 40 people. The people I chose weren’t random. They were people who have either worked with me as a client, as a project partner, as an employer or colleague, as an attendee at one of my many workshops, or as a person who has been part of my online community long enough to be a solid witness to what I do — promote, educate, teach and champion others.

I received some glowing recommendations immediately. I am touched. Seriously. And I am spending more time sharing my gratitude for those who were so kind, and passing the love forward.

But the one that I just can’t shake off was the one where I was told I hadn’t hired her, nor had she hired me, so she couldn’t endorse me. Not only that, when I responded with how she knows me and what I was really about, she didn’t get my point – that she knows me BETTER for being a participant in my online community, than someone who has merely hired me. If she is paying attention, she would know me very well in spite of never exchanging cash. Nope – she couldn’t endorse me because she didn’t hire me.

Really? I guess that is one way to look at LinkedIn and the world of recommending people.

Fair enough. Not taking it personally.

But that’s not MY way.

I think that way SUCKS for everyone.

(Now the truth is, her endorsement of me would be flat anyway if she doesn’t like me and get me, so it’s better not to have it, but I’m using this to make a point so bear with me)

What I recommend instead is what I’m sure must be the true intention of endorsements — referral networks of champions, mini-communities of champions that actually care about each other.

How To Be a True Champion

  1. A true champion of other businesses does not have to exchange cash – to have a relationship where an endorsement is credible.
  2. A true champion notices the work of others when they don’t know they are being watched, witnessing their true character in action.
  3. A true champion endorses good businesses because it’s the right thing to do.
  4. A true champion endorses good businesses because in this social media culture where relationships are the fabric of our businesses it’s the SMART thing to do.

In order for our small business economies to grow, we need to champion each other to keep good growth rolling. We need to pay attention to small business owners and help them nurture their successes.

We need to go out of our way to elevate businesses without being asked. And when we ARE asked, we should respond.

Don’t Suck

Don’t assume you have to hire someone to know if they are worth recommending.

Pay attention. Unless someone has really messed with your business on purpose and they are actually evil, there is always something good to say. Figure out what it is, and say it.

Be a champion. Life is too short. Give your time to lift someone up. They deserve it. And it feels pretty good for you too!

But Caution

Not everyone thinks asking for recommendations is a good idea. Some think it is “desperate”. I think that’s a cowardly view (I know this because I can be a coward at times too) and it is silly not to ask for anything you need to grow your business.

But do what’s right for you. I’m testing the waters out a bit with LinkedIn. I trust my good reputation will stand up to unendorsements like the one I referenced, and the fair number of “lack of responses.”

It’s all cool with me as I really want recommendations from those who DO know me — those who know me well enough to strengthen my solid brand. Those who don’t know me will fragment or confuse my brand.

So do what’s right for you.

But whatever you do, be a champion among your communities. Don’t opt out of lifting someone up. It matters.

Share your LinkedIn account below and I’ll write a champion recommendation for YOU if I know you (even if we’ve never hired each other).

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