Did you know that you can follow people on LinkedIn?


I was recently looking at a post on LinkedIn, and I noticed something I had never noticed before: underneath the poster’s profile picture is a link that allows me to “follow” them.

Follow on LinkedIn

Follow? What is this, twitter?

I remember when LinkedIn announced that companies can now be followed. That kind of makes sense, since companies are entities. But I had never noticed the follow-people functionality, and I don’t love it.

LinkedIn is about quality

I like that every social network has its own unique flavor. Aside from the varying features of each network, I build different types of relationships in different ways on each social network. On twitter, I’m pretty open to following anyone I think has related interests, and of course anyone can follow me if they choose. On facebook, I’ve become more open about who I approve as a friend and I don’t actually have to have met them previously. But I still won’t confirm friendship with people who don’t seem to have anything in common with me (common being a very loose term – could apply to geographical location, interests, etc.) or who seem shady.

LinkedIn is the last remaining place on the web where I value quality over quantity. My connections there only consist of people I’ve met, whether on- or off-line, or with whom I’m building a business relationship. [Side rant: I don’t understand people who don’t know me and send me the default LinkedIn introduction message of “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” Take a  minute and introduce yourself, tell me why you want to connect, or where we’ve met!]

I think that this type of quality vs. quantity approach to LinkedIn is what gives anyone’s network there value. For example, a big part of LinkedIn is introducing people. If I don’t really know the people in my network, I can’t introduce them to others, and that reduces the value of my network. If I don’t really have a relationship with my connections, then they’re just numbers.

And that’s why I think adding follow functionality is inappropriate for LinkedIn. One-directional relationships there are not part of what LinkedIn networking is about. The value of connections there is when they’re mutual and people can use those connections to build and develop serious business relationships.

And besides: why does every network have to be a twitter wannabe? Yes, there are cool things about twitter, but come on. A little less copy-catting, and a little more innovating please.

How to see who you’re following, and who’s following you, on LinkedIn

Now that we know that this functionality exists in LinkedIn, You can manage all your followers and followings on LinkedIn as follows:

  1. Click on Groups on the top navigation bar in LinkedIn.
  2. From the tabs that appear on the top of the page, select Following.
  3. You’ll see in the top-left corner of the page a list of links, including “People I’m Following” and “My Followers.”
  4. Click on either of those links to see who you’re following, and who’s following you. You’ll notice that under each person, you have the option to follow/unfollow, and to get email alerts:
    Following and email alerts on LinkedIn
    If you choose to get email alerts about a person, you’ll get an email every time they do anything on LinkedIn. This is a good feature if you really want to keep a close eye on someone, but not if you just want to be connected.

LinkedIn automatically sets you to follow all your connections, and for your connections to follow you – that’s why you’ll see that you’re already following quite a lot of people.

So now you know how to manage following on LinkedIn. What do you think – is this a useful feature, or just another example of twitter wannabe syndrome?