Asking for testimonials can be one of the most awkward, uncomfortable things for people, especially solo entrepreneurs, to do. It’s especially challenging for women, who often have a hard time promoting ourselves. So many times, we tend to wait for people to offer to recommend us, which in most cases, never happens.
Other times, we take an easier approach: we mine our social media feeds or email for instances where happy clients have told us we’re great and splash those comments where the rest of the world can see we’re great: front and center on our website, social media profiles, or print marketing materials. It’s the easiest, most fail-proof way to garner social proof.
It’s also unethical.
The only time it is appropriate to display a compliment about your work in your marketing materials (website, Twitter feed, Facebook business page, etc.) is if you have the consent—preferably written—of the person who gave you the compliment. That’s it. Otherwise, you’re saying this person publicly endorses you when the truth very well may be that they don’t.
But isn’t a compliment a public endorsement?
Nope. When someone compliments you, they’re simply acknowledging (in this case) your talent or skill in a certain area. That’s hugely different from a public endorsement, which says, Hey, I’ve tried it. It worked for me. I stand behind those results and don’t mind putting my name and reputation on the line to defend it.
It’s the difference between a person agreeing to date you and being willing to confess their undying, sho’nuf til death-do-us-part loyalty in a church before 500 of your closest friends. They might think you’re a great catch, but they’re not digging you like that. Yet.
Here’s the easy, legit way to get yourself recommended and publicly endorsed
“Hi Sam. We’ve worked on a few projects together and we really click. Would you mind doing a quick write-up of your experience working with me (my ability to meet deadlines, easy-going personality, ability to quickly grasp concepts) that I can display on my LinkedIn profile (or new website, or Facebook business page, or whatever)? Thanks for your help. Let me know if you have questions.
Once that person says, “Sure, no problem. Here you go,” you’re clear. Splash that public endorsement all over the place you said you would. Until then, accept the compliment for what it was—confirmation that yes, you’ve got skillz—and move on.