This morning I received a recommendation from a business associate that put a smile on my face. I advocate candid feedback from individuals and entities that one has come into contact with. Whether complimentary or otherwise, I strongly believe such information is an asset. The recipient can then decide if to use, bin or reframe this, thereby adding to ones' knowledge of self - more precisely, ones' knowledge of external perception of oneself.
However, LinkedIn has a cringe-worthy feature called 'Recommend'. I remember the first time I received a 'Can you recommend me?' request from a friend I respect immensely and have a lot of time for. I felt, 'Why should I recommend you? We are good friends but we have not worked on projects together.' Incidentally, my friend is a very successful investment banker who was formally trained as a lawyer and PhD physicist. I enjoy their company and always learn something new when we hang out but surely there has to be a more meaningful way of me paying kudos to such people I know besides the cheap-and-cheerful five-star rating system that comes to mind with LinkedIn and other social media's current recommendation systems.
Indeed I have been fortunate to receive recommendations from clients and business associates. Call me a stuffy Englishman but, personally I would rather knit a sweater than proactively request this in the first instance. One alternative is for 'Feedback'. Feedback can be from clients or anyone else that has an opinion they would like to share with you (and/or your connections or stakeholders). AngelList is much closer to implementing this intuitively. For 'Feedback' given, the recipient has the option to make each comment visible to the public or not. Those that volunteer to give feedback should also be able to opt for anonymity, full disclosure or something in-between that qualifies the context of their opinion or relationship without disclosing who they are.
That should take out the awkwardness of soliciting or receiving such requests for recommendations.