How to Ask for (and Receive) Recommendations

For many business owners, asking for a review of your services can be a daunting task. Even those with natural sales ability may shy away from asking for a written testimonial. This fear is unfortunate, because, in today’s digital economy, the recommendations you receive are almost as important as the service you provide. Don’t let the fear of asking for a review keep your business from growing.

For those ready to make the ask, there are a few ways to make it easier. Here’s our step-by-step approach to asking (and receiving) recommendations.

Plan Your Approach

First of all, do not use a shotgun approach to getting recommendations. Sending out a request to everyone is bad – especially if you are using LinkedIn.  It also looks obvious if you cut-and-paste a generic message for every recipient. If you could not take the time to write out a thoughtful message, why should they?

Request Relevant People

Testimonials are not created equal. Aim for recommendations from people that will add credibility to your business. Ask the thought leaders in your industry, (if they are familiar with your work), and prioritize those that work at reputable organizations or have impressive titles. Don’t forget to ask those with similar job titles; they make your recommendation even stronger.


Choose Wisely

Anyone can give a recommendation. Writing good recommendations is a mixture of knowing the person and knowing how to write. If you want a well-written review, choose people you think write well. Plus, since you are not paying for the testimonials, and you are asking for a gift of time, you will need to make it worth their effort. Ask those that have benefited from your work in some way, for a better chance at a yes.

Ask Before You Ask

Don’t just send automated testimonial requests, send an email or ask them beforehand. Not only does this add a personal touch, but it also furthers the chance that they will read it. The pre-ask is also an excellent opportunity to prompt them on what you would like them to say. If you need a particular service reviewed, include that in your email.


Customize Your Request

Most website will include pre-written text for your recommendation requests. If you did not do a pre-ask, do not use it. Generic requests are often treated like other generic emails busy people receive; they get ignored. Spend a few minutes to write 5-6 sentences that remind the receiver of your connection, ask for a testimonial, and thank them for their time. It also doesn’t hurt to offer some sort of thank you gift to sweeten the ask.

 Spread Them Out

Make asking for recommendations a regular thing.  Set up a regular interval for sending out requests, such as 30 days after a project ends, or once a quarter.  A profile that is regularly updated with new testimonials is attractive to both search engines and people.


That’s it! Once you start receiving those reviews, don’t forget to send an email saying thanks! It’s just nice.