15 Best People To Follow on LinkedIn: A Guide for 2020by: Dustin Hawley | Friday November 15, 2019
Those who have been following the rise of LinkedIn over the past couple years have recognized it's more than just savvy job seekers looking for their next career opportunity. In fact, LinkedIn’s usefulness goes far beyond its job offerings and contacts. However, this is where many people get stuck.
There are so many people worth following who are bringing value to the platform, so much so that it can be difficult to know what’s what sometimes. Many start their LinkedIn journey by uploading their resume, searching job postings and connecting with their peers. You end up following some of the more obvious big names—like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Kevin O'Leary (who we think offer great value and made our list)—but still find yourself seeking more value and connections through the growing platform.
Fret no more! Depending on your career goals, your intentions with the network, and what you seek most on LinkedIn in terms of value, you can make the platform much more relevant to your objective by following specific experts and thought-leaders who are making waves on LinkedIn. These are people who are garnering viewership and bringing value to the platform with their content. Here is our list of the 15 best people to follow on LinkedIn, a guide for 2020 and beyond. Let's jump in and get started!
1. Jeff Weiner
Any list consisting of the best LinkedIn personalities would be incomplete without the presence of the platforms' own CEO Jeff Weiner. He started with LinkedIn on December 15, 2008, as Interim President. Weiner played an instrumental role in Microsoft's $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn acquisition in June 2016. This was the beginning of LinkedIn's ascent into social media prominence.
Jeff uses his feed to interact with his followers and often uses it as a platform to share about LinkedIn's latest features, news, updates, and the values he hopes to continue to bring to the social network.
2. Chantel Soumis
The self-proclaimed 'brand sorceress' has been making noise on LinkedIn over the past couple of years, growing her following as a top LinkedIn Creator to over 30,000 organic followers in just one year. She's had the opportunity to take what she knows as a marketing professional and help others achieve their own powerful digital reputation.
Chantel is also an advocate for the differently-abled community, with a mission to spread awareness, hope, and inclusion to those around the world fighting for acceptance by sharing the hidden struggles of the differently-abled community. Her strong presence and bubbly personality make her a must-follow on the platform.
3. Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson is a force on LinkedIn, being the first LinkedIn Influencer to cross the 1 million follower mark way back in 2012. Branson, the founder of Virgin, was one of the charter contributors in Influencer, a program launched by LinkedIn back in 2012 that gave a select group of thought leaders the ability to write long-form content on LinkedIn and have their words and sharing activity be followed.
Over seven years later, and Branson is still going strong on the platform, consistently posting motivational stories, insights into his business ventures, and introspective views into his successes and failures as one of the world's most famous entrepreneurs.
4. Travis Hawley
This selection is close to our hearts, as we are honored to call him a part of our organization here at Viral Nation.
Travis Hawley is a US Air Force veteran and former Intelligence Analyst for the NSA turned social media marketing leader. He’s worked with celebrities like Mariah Carey, Conor McGregor, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more, leveraging his experience in data, creative and analysis here at Viral Nation for more than 3 years now on all things influencer marketing and social media. He has created and run 3 popular social media pages with over 800,000 followers.
He may be most notable on LinkedIn for creating arguably the first 'viral' video on the platform back in 2017 when he posted a 'love letter' to the social network in which he highlighted the profound effect it had on his professional growth. The music video (produced and written by another member of the Viral Nation family, yours truly) was cleverly promoted on the platform and generated over 400,000 views and thousands of comments, most notably from LinkedIn CEO (and number one on our list) Jeff Weiner. Did we mention that the guy singing the chorus is former Vine star-turned-social guru Ray Ligaya? He also is a member of the Viral Nation team, and you could say this project was a bit of a family affair.
5. String Nguyen
String Nguyen is one of the fastest rising stars on our list, having grown her LinkedIn profile from 0 to 30,000 followers in just 14 months. Currently, she's one of LinkedIn's top voices and one of the top 200 writers on the channel for discussing brand marketing and startups. She was also a producer for an award-winning Snapchat Channel, Women In Tech.
Also going by StringStory, Nguyen is a creative tech strategist and video producer who has worked with over 200 innovators, startup founders, and entrepreneurs from around the globe. She has interviewed everybody from Derek Anderson (Startup Grind), Hugh Forrester (SXSW) and even the infamous Gary Vaynerchuk.
6. Quentin Allums
Even if you are unaware of who exactly Quentin Allums is, chances are if you have browsed LinkedIn for long enough, you have seen him and his trademark hat floating around on video content far and wide.
Allums story is inspirational. After hitting rock bottom at 23 years old when his recently launched virtual reality startup tanked, "Q" decided to ditch the startup and focus his energy on something new: video diaries. So every day for a year, he filmed himself speaking on camera with a goal to become a more articulate speaker, a more confident person, and an all-around better entrepreneur.
Fast forward to today, and Allums is one of LinkedIn's top creators, and his company Urban Misfit Ventures is thriving. Keep an eye out for Q and his trademark headwear next time you are browsing your LinkedIn feed.
7. Bill Gates
Microsoft may have missed the mark when they acquired Nokia for $6 billion in 2013. Less than a year later, they found themselves washing their hands of the Finnish phone company and laying off nearly 80% of the employees they brought on board. No marks were missed when they acquired LinkedIn in 2016, and the platform has been surging ever since.
Microsoft's co-founder Bill Gates was a big believer in LinkedIn and is very active on the platform. He joined in 2013, and much of his content is centered around him sharing his insights on business and his philanthropic work with his and his wife's charity organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
8. Roger Wakefield
When you think of social media personalities, you probably think about entrepreneurs, tech developers, fashionistas, and a bevy of other professions we associate with social media prowess. But how about...plumbers??
That wasn't a typo. And we aren't sure this can be verified. But we feel pretty confident that Roger Wakefield is the world's first 'plumbing' influencer, and for good reason.
Initially, Roger and his team started by creating 'how-to' videos to build credibility, offer practical educational and DIY advice to homeowners, and build business for his company Texas Green Plumbing in 2016. “We had worked with several digital marketing companies who each specialized in different areas of advertising and branding, but none of the companies were able to deliver what we needed or what they promised," Wakefield said in an interview with Medium, "We spent so much money (too much money) on new and improved websites, SEO, Google Ad Words, professional videos, and social media marketing. Our big lesson: take responsibility for our own marketing. Do not let anyone else totally do it for us."
And that's exactly what he has done. Roger translated his success in plumbing and his affinity for shooting tutorial videos and transitioned it into his LinkedIn community. He leveraged his title of "The Expert Plumber" and began shooting videos on LinkedIn. Not solely focused on plumbing, Wakefield created content around the idea that no matter what business you are running, you can market yourself and your brand effectively to grow your business. The Expert Plumber is now an expert LinkedIn Creator, having completed keynote speeches at VidCon and other high profile conferences, and has become one of the most recognizable faces on the platform.
9. AJ Wilcox
AJ Wilcox is the founder of B2Linked, a LinkedIn ad agency. He is a long-time digital marketer who fell in love with the LinkedIn Ads platform way back in 2011. Since then, he's scaled and managed some of the world's most sophisticated accounts worldwide. There is nobody more versed on LinkedIn Ads then AJ, and his content focuses on growth hacks, marketing trends, and industry insights. For brands looking to utilize LinkedIn Ads, Wilcox is an absolute must-follow.
10. Kevin O'Leary
Fans of the uber-popular television show "Shark Tank" are all too familiar with the man dubbed "Mr. Wonderful", entrepreneur Kevin O'Leary. His website describes his ascent with poetic flair, stating that his "success story starts where most entrepreneurs begin: with a big idea and zero cash."
Today, O'Leary leads the O'Leary Financial Group – a group of companies that includes O'Shares ETFs, O'Leary Publishing and a continually growing roster of other businesses. He is also the founder and Chief Sommelier of O'Leary Fine Wines, an award-winning wine label, as well as a member of Boston's 107-year old Hamilton Trust.
His LinkedIn content consists of clips from the hit show "Shark Tank" as well as key tips and insights on all things business. His no-nonsense approach and undeniable business acumen make him a great follow on the platform.
11. Shay Rowbottom
There are far too many executives and entrepreneurs who struggle to generate revenue through LinkedIn and connect with their target market. Well, that's where Shay Rowbottom comes in. She turns founders and executives into LinkedIn video creators that generate massive revenue for their organization. And she does so with her own unique style and pizazz.
12. Amy Blaschka
Amy Blaschka is a social media ghostwriter who helps leaders craft their stories on social media to communicate and connect better with their audience. The former branding consultant and current Forbes contributor focuses on helping her clients share their unique talents and insights consistently, teaching them how to magnify both their reach and impact. Blaschka is a professional storyteller and a valuable resource on LinkedIn, where her content centers around her experiences as a ghostwriter and she shares tips on crafting your own story online.
13. Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek is a recognizable face on social media, and LinkedIn is no exception. For those looking for a reason why? His "About" section on his profile probably says it best. Sinek describes himself as "an unshakable optimist who believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together". Simon's deep, insightful approach to leading an organization (and humanity as a whole, for that matter) has garnered him respect and admiration in the business community and beyond.
Simon is best known for popularizing the concept of WHY during his very first TED Talk in 2009. Since it's release, it's become one of the most-watched keynotes of all time on TED.com, with over 37+ million views. He's also the bestselling author of Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, Together Is Better, and The Infinite Game.
14. Ish Verduzco
Ish Verduzco is a bit of a jack of all trades. Verduzco used his knowledge of social media platforms to land his first tech job as a Social Media Manager at the company we are highlighting in this article. After a successful tenure with LinkedIn, he recently embarked on a new journey and joined another social media giant, Snapchat, while simultaneously launching and hosting his popular podcast "Get Ish Done". He also moonlights as a successful DJ, so the question looms; is there anything this man can't do?
15. Diana Nguyen
As an actress and comedian, Diana Nguyen put an expiration date on her unhappiness and decided to throw herself fully into LinkedIn. Through daily video content, Diana has built a massive social media following and uses her platform to talk about #BeBrave and describe how LinkedIn has changed her life for the better. She's not only passionate about social justice and sustainability, but she also continues to be a source of joy, laughter, and optimism for her entire audience. "Dancing Diana" is also the co-creator and executive producer of the popular "Phi And Me" web series.
Reach out to us today and get started on your next influencer marketing campaign.