Do you have a profile on LinkedIn? If so, are you being followed without knowing it? On LinkedIn, you can follow anyone, even people who have absolutely no connection to you.
From a follower’s standpoint, this is good news. After all, maybe you have noticed someone on LinkedIn who regularly contributes great discussions or comments to a LinkedIn Group you are in, and you don’t want to miss anything they post. When I first started using LinkedIn regularly, I began following someone who kept posting excellent tips for using LinkedIn. This helped immensely as I soaked up everything I could to learn all the great features of LinkedIn.
How does this particular feature affect those being unknowingly followed on LinkedIn? First of all, how do you even know if you are being followed? To find out, go to a LinkedIn Group you belong to, and click on the “Members” tab. You will see yourself at the top of the list. Under your shortened profile, there is a blue link to your followers, and it says the number of them. If the number of followers is greater than the number of LinkedIn connections you have, you are being followed by someone you likely don’t know! Click on the link, and a list of all your followers will appear. The people who are not identified as a “1st” connection are your secret admirers!
Sometimes these people are listed as “2nd” connections. Click through to their profile to see how they are connected to you. This will be listed on the right side of their profile. More often, however, these people are listed as “Group” connections. Click through to their profile to see what groups you have in common with them. These will be listed on the right side of their profile.
Why is this important to know? You are on LinkedIn to network, right? Don’t you think people who are your secret admirers would like to network with you? After all, they have already taken a bold step by following you. This presents a golden opportunity!
Send these people invitations to connect on LinkedIn. Mention that you just realized they are following you and you see you are both connected to so-and-so, who is good friend or a co-worker or whatever. Or mention you see you are both members of such-and-such LinkedIn Group, and you feel that is a key group to belong to. Ask them if it would just make good sense for the two of you to connect. Remember, this is not a cold call – the person has already warmed up to you from afar.
Most of the time, these people will connect with you in a heartbeat. If they have liked your updates, they will also likely flatter you with some praise. For those who live or work near you, you might even want to follow up your connection with an invitation to meet for lunch or at a bookstore coffee shop.