What would it take to make me a fan of LinkedIn’s ‘Influencers’?

Got an email this morning from LinkedIn.

“You’re now following John Maeda and 4 other Influencers.”

No reflection on John or the other four people I’ve never heard of, but…

Really?

LinkedIn You are now following John Maeda

I mean, I thought…

…after graduate school, no one would ever assign me a guidance counselor.

At least without asking first.

Immediately after racing to LinkedIn and unfollowing all these people, the irony hit me that I’d probably want to follow Mr. Maeda.

If I were given the choice.

But I wasn’t.

So, unfollowed he is and remains.

At least until I read his posts and make my own decision.

Dear LinkedIn:

If you want me as a fan of your Influencers program, here are a few tips:

  1. Make it voluntary. Do you realize you’re engendering feelings in me similar to those I had as a teenager when my mother tried to choose my friends? Or tell me what my political opinions were? Let’s don’t go there. Instead, put a Follow button on everybody’s profile. Then keep a page of rankings. Think Klout, not Mom.
  2. Make it easy. Yesterday I was trying to find a person’s list of posts. I searched and found the person. Couldn’t find their posts. Could you work on this? For me? And do you have a search function for article content? If so, could you show me where it is?
  3. Make it relevant. You did a good job of picking out Mr. Maeda. He’s an academician, which interests me. He’s a designer, which vitally interests me. If he turns out to be a nice guy who accepts my invitation to connect (more about that further down), I’m all in. But why haven’t you suggested Michael Hyatt or Rick Warren? Or even Craig Groeschel? They are experts in an area way more critical to me than anything else I see on LinkedIn. I’d follow those guys in a heartbeat. And I’d be your fan for life.

Reaching out

As irritated as I was at LinkedIn assuming I would want to follow these people—and then identifying me as a follower without my permission—I was intrigued enough with my brief glimpse at Mr. Maeda’s profile to send him this message:

Hi John. My name is Charles Flemming. LinkedIn just informed me I’m following you. You look like a great guy who knows a lot about areas I’m vitally interested in. What I’d really like to do—rather than merely follow you (whatever that means)—is connect with you. Would that be possible? Thanks! chas

It wouldn’t surprise me to find out I’ve breached some critical LinkedIn etiquette point in approaching Mr. Maeda this way.

Hopefully he’ll be okay with the idea that some people are more interested in connecting than in being one more anonymous person in their follower list.

C’mon, LinkedIn.

Do it for John.

Update:

Ross Avner, principle and strategist at consultancy firm Point A2B has a useful perspective as well (‘Thought leaders’ take LinkedIn away from its roots). He’s for democratizing the content, giving us ALL the opportunity to post longer articles.

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