LinkedIn links up with 'influencers'
BY AP Wire Service
Sunday, October 07, 2012
10/07/12 at 3:38 AM
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - LinkedIn is adding more expert advice to its website and making it easier for its users to find their pearls of wisdom.
The online professional networking service hopes the proffered tips and advice will help it extend its clout beyond the help-wanted market.
The new feature added Tuesday will encourage LinkedIn's more than 175 million members to follow the musings of "influencers" - a 150-person panel that includes President Barack Obama, business moguls, Internet bloggers, self-help gurus and entrepreneurs.
LinkedIn plans to add more influencers but only after screening candidates to ensure they are qualified to dispense helpful advice.
Besides Obama, LinkedIn recruited his Republican Party challenger, Mitt Romney, to be among its initial group of influencers. Virgin Group Richard Branson also has agreed to share his thoughts, along with oil mogul T. Boone Pickens, serial entrepreneur James Caan and Craig Newmark, the founder of the online classified service Craigslist.
Others, such as chef Marcus Samuelsson and Cleveland Clinic CEO Delos Cosgrove, are expected to cater to people interested in specific fields. LinkedIn's CEO, Jeff Weiner, and executive chairman, Reid Hoffman, are also on the list.
LinkedIn is counting on its influencers to share tips in short essays, video and photos. It's similar to the sharing that occurs billions of times a day on Twitter and Facebook, where users see information from other accounts they have chosen to follow.
The concept represents something different for LinkedIn, whose system requires users to send requests to establish a connection. The tie-in doesn't occur until both people agree to it.
LinkedIn members will just have to click on a "follow" button to track what any of the influencers are sharing. The feature is part of Linked-In Today, a daily news section unveiled last year as part of the company's attempt to build its website into something more than a digital rolodex that unites people looking for a better job with talent-hungry employers.
If the news section and the addition of the influencers pans out the way LinkedIn envisions, people will have more reasons to check into the website and perhaps stick around longer. That, in turn, would help LinkedIn sell more advertising.