NVS Blog

LinkedIn Updates – You Need to Know

January 31st was a sad day for LinkedIn. Months ago I wrote an article entitled You’re An Expert? Prove It On LinkedIn. As those of you who’ve used it know (and who I’ve posted answers and questions for) it was one of the better features of LinkedIn. Solving someone’s problem is a sure way to get their attention and possibly their business or collaboration. Well, that feature has been shut down with no real explanation. I’ll miss it.

Next on the list of LinkedIn disappointments (depending upon who you ask) is their new Thought Leaders feature.

You may have noticed lately that now when you open up LinkedIn you’ll see LinkedIn Today with beautiful, graphic displays of articles in cute little cubes. If you click on certain profiles you’ll see under Activity that there are what appear to be full blog posts, complete with pictures, right there for you to enjoy. I saw this and I was THRILLED – for you! This is a terrific way to get your content into the spotlight and I was ready to do just that – for myself and for those of you whose LinkedIn accounts I manage. Imagine sharing your blog content in such a fantastic way! Well, LinkedIn snatched that dream away quickly.Brian Tracy said, “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” LinkedIn doesn’t make you a Thought Leader. You do that yourself.

Apparently there’s a new category of LinkedIn members and they are called Thought Leaders. A handful of members (relatively speaking, considering the 200 million members LinkedIn suggests it has) were selected and given the ability to post in this way, meaning that they’re getting a whole lot of visibility that many of us would be willing to pay for – but there is no price. Some of these posts get upwards in the hundreds of “likes” and comments. I have personally seen some with 400+ likes and even more comments. That is PHENOMENAL for a blog post. If you’d like to read more about this, there are two relevant articles on LinkedIn that give little (and I mean very little) insight. One was posted back in October 2012 and the other January 29th.

One person I’m glad to see who made it to Thought Leader status is Francesca Levy who previously worked for Forbes Magazine. I was introduced to her a few years ago by Carl Lavin who was the Managing Editor at the time. He’d contacted me personally through LinkedIn after reading a blog post I’d shared in a group he belonged to. He invited me to visit his office in New York for lunch and then gave me a tour of the entire newsroom and introduced me to associates as, “the one who wrote the networking article about how good networkers are like drug dealers!” [I’d been chastised by some for using that reference, but I do know the value of a controversial subject line or statement. It gets people talking and if no one is talking about it, it’s not relevant.] Later as we ate scones in a coffee shop before I was to leave, I asked a perfect stranger to take a few camera phone pictures of us so I’d have proof that it really happened. (And he appeased me when I requested, “Ok, one more, look like I’m saying something really interesting. Wait, promise, just one more, now we both smile like old friends, not too toothy.”) He didn’t offer me a job and we weren’t talking business by then. He wanted to know about my love of writing and I listened while he talked about how he came to manage the magazine. It was a just a relaxed chat with a guy who loves a well-written article. And now I had direct access to that man.

My intention there was not to drop names, but to simply make a point. Screw who LinkedIn considers a thought leader (Carl would love how I said that)! That’s not an insult to any of those they’ve chosen, it’s an accolade to you. Whatever thought you’re thinking, whatever problem you’re solving, whatever strides you are making, as long as you can articulate it, you can and will (and do) influence others. Love what you do and just do it.

For me that thing is writing. I don’t do it with the intention of being influential. I’d write even if no one was reading; even if I had no subscribers or fans. If it matters, great. But it’s backward logic to try to figure out what’s relevant or hot and then try to become that.

So am I concerned that LinkedIn doesn’t recognize me (or you) as a Thought Leader or influential person? Not at all. Before LinkedIn existed, I was relevant and long after they’re gone, I expect I will continue to be. Maybe to a few, maybe to many – doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they don’t get to make that call. I do. Brian Tracy said, “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” LinkedIn doesn’t make you a Thought Leader. You do that yourself.

But I’m still keeping an eye on this Thought Leader thing and will report back when I find out what’s next on the horizon.

Here are a few of the members on LinkedIn I am currently following and would follow whether or not they were consider Thought Leaders. While I do not necessarily always agree with their points, they are stimulating, thoughtful and thought-provoking communicators.

James Caan - CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw
Recent quote: “Having an opinion about something you are passionate about is not a bad thing, it shows that are actually interested in what is going on around you and your industry.”

Mark Cuban - (Come on, you know who he is, right?)
Recent quote: “Unless your parents are wealthy or you quality for a full ride or something close, the days of picking a school because that is the school you always wanted to go to are gone.”

Nilofer MerchantThe Jane Bond of Innovation
Recent quote: “When you have [sic] point of view about what matters to you and why, your chances of “changing the world” rise exponentially.”

Jeff SelingoEditor | Author | Columnist | Speaker
Recent quote: “… we’re on the road to creating a two-tiered higher-education system that will ensure we don’t help foster the next generation of students like Michael Bloomberg.”

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