Recommendations as Relationship Builders...
There's a lot of debate in the blogosphere about the value of a recommendation on LinkedIn.
Are they fluff pieces?
Are they valuable?
Obviously, you should take them with a grain of salt (but that's true of traditional references as well, I suppose), but here's another thought...
The recommendation you write for someone else on LinkedIn is a chance for you to strengthen the relationship with that individual.
It may be that the only person who reads the recommendation is the person asking for it, in which case, take advantage of that.
People love to receive compliments. This is your chance to be specific in your praise or admiration for that individual.
Don't make stuff up. Be honest. Find something you admire about that person. Write it down.
You're not concerned whether you will persuade a potential future employer just how great your friend is.
You are concerned with solidifying the relationship.
That's worth a few minutes (and proof that details matter)
Here's my profile on LinkedIn.