There are many resources on the web for finding people to follow on Twitter. Just do a search for any particular type of person you want to follow (student entrepreneurs? job seeker advice? etc.) and chances are you will find a list. But why none for LinkedIn? Well, just as I have been the first to write on other things LinkedIn-related, I think it is important to introduce people on LinkedIn that I think you should invite and/or connect up with. These people are either LIONs or “Super Connectors”, people with lots of connections that are open to receiving new invites as well as helping people connect and pay it forward.
The importance of connecting with LIONs and Super Connectors on LinkedIn cannot be understated.
They help you build out the virtual network that you will need for successful Windmill Networking, and it also improves your visibility when searching for others as well as when they search for you.
Now, I do need to point out that LinkedIn caps the number of connections you can have at 30,000. So those people below that have over 30,000 connections can receive your invite but cannot accept it. I still think it is worth sending an invite with an introductory paragraph about yourself in the hopes that someday this limit will be lifted and they will be able to accept your invitation. After all, the new LinkedIn Search now allows you to not only sort by connections but also to see the number of connections above 500 someone might have instead of that old “500+” text. This is a very welcome modification and gives us all hope that the limitation on the number of connections will be lifted soon.
As a final disclaimer, I am personally connected to all of these people but have yet to meet any of them. That being said, I have had various communications with each of the people I recommend either directly or indirectly. When you send them your invite let them know that Neal Schaffer of Windmill Networking sent ‘ya 😉
(guide: Name – Worldwide Ranking – # of Connections – Location)
Ron Bates – #1 – 41,000+ Connections (San Francisco)
Ron Bates is a retained executive search expert and is also the most connected person on LinkedIn. Perhaps it is his proximity to LinkedIn headquarters in the Bay Area that helped him along the way, but Ron is a great person who I happened to hear speak on a free webinar for executive job seekers several months ago. Intelligent and passionate, if your company is looking for a retained executive recruiter or if you are an executive looking for guidance, Ron is your man to connect with.
Steven Burda – #4 – 37,000+ Connections (Philadelphia)
Steven is currently employed at The Boeing Company in a financial analysis and management role. But he is better known for being the “Mother Teresa of Networking.” Some people love him, others hate him, but I can tell you from my personal experience that Steven is the ultimate pay-it-forward Windmill Networker. He has been featured in the press of saying controversial things about LinkedIn’s practices and limitations, but like myself, I can not think of anyone else out there who evangelizes LinkedIn more than Steven does. And, if you don’t believe me, look at the 2,000+ recommendations he has from real people that have been touched by him. Please reach out to him and experience the warmth of his connection yourself. If you think that Steven can ever help you, ask him, as I am sure that he will take the time out of his busy schedule to listen and lend a helping hand 😉
Marc Freedman – #5 – 31,000+ Connections (Dallas)
I have never met Marc but I have heard the fascinating interview he had on Stan Relihan’s Connections Show. Some of you who have been around on LinkedIn hopefully remember the original MyLink500.com database, which allowed us all to openly add our information to a huge database of LinkedIn users for the purpose of open networking (this has now been moved to http://mylinknetwork.com). Marc is also the founder of the Dallas Blue LinkedIn Group, which has over 25,000 members and has traditionally been one of the largest LinkedIn Groups. And if that wasn’t enough he also created the excellent MyLinkWiki which contains loads of documentation about LinkedIn. The amazing thing is that this is someone who apparently had his 20,000+ connections LinkedIn account removed for “spamming” (he was trying to raise money for charity) and then rebuilt it from scratch to be the #5 most connected person on LinkedIn today! Amazing!
Stacy Donovan Zapar – #9 – 29,000+ Connections (San Diego)
Stacy is located just an hour away from me in sunny San Diego and yet we have never had a chance to meet. She is in the recruiting industry, but more importantly she brands herself as a “Pay It Forward Open Networker”, a fundamental characteristic of Windmill Networking. I have recommended friends in San Diego who were in transition to contact her, and she has answered every one of their emails and phone calls. Stacy, I hope to meet you some day!
Shally Steckerl – #13 – 28,000+ Connections (Atlanta)
Shally is a leading recruitment speaker and consultant, and he is also Chief Cyber Sleuth of what used to be called The Job Machine and is now called Arbita. I subscribe to his newsletters because he truly is a pioneer in using the Internet to source for candidates. If you are in transition, doesn’t it interest you to see how recruiters “source” or find you on the Internet? Reading the annoucements of the webinars that he does for recruiters blows my mind. Definitely on the leading edge of understanding social media for recruiting and a must person to connect with.
Christian Mayaud – #26 – 24,000+ Connections (New York City)
Christian is the founder of a Venture Capital firm. But more importantly, he is the founder of the original Linkedin LION Group. What else can I add? He is the grandfather of the LinkedIn Open Networking movement. Please pay him your respect.
Thomas Power – #27 – 23,000+ Connections (United Kingdom)
Thomas is the Chairman of Ecademy, one of the premier social networking sites for business people with 500,000+ members worldwide. I have exchanged some tweets with Thomas on Twitter, but it is the power of Ecademy that makes his connection so valuable. I once met an entrepreneur from New Zealand in Japan who was on a several week tour of Asia looking for partners. He was able to attain all of his appointments and meet many people solely through networking on Ecademy! Ecademy is a place where there is some serious Windmill Networking occurring, and Thomas is at the helm. Please connect with him and check out Ecademy as well.
Barack Obama – #28 – 23,000+ Connections (Washington D.C.)
That’s right, President Obama, the first President of the Social Media era has a presence on LinkedIn. He doesn’t seem to be very active on LinkedIn, but you have to admit he has a busy job. Will he answer your messages? Probably not. But wouldn’t it be cool to have the President as your connection? I thought so. Heck, I even wrote a blog post last year regarding how to connect with Barack Obama. Let me know if that address doesn’t work anymore, OK?
Stan Relihan – #30 – 22,000+ Connections (Sydney, Australia)
It was a sad day when I heard that Stan was no longer going to be doing his Connections Show podcast. This is someone who I got to know through my ipod and his frequent podcast, and I truly have learned a lot about social networking, Web 2.0, and LinkedIn from him. Stan, by the way, is a headhunter and is Asia-Pacific’s most connected person. Whenever I meet someone from Sydney, I always ask if they have ever met Stan, and I always get the “Yes!” answer. He is a great guy who completely understands the value of Windmill Networking…I do hope to have a chance to meet him someday!
OK. We are probably already connected, but just in case 😉 And if you want to find out the latest on Windmill Networking and find other people that share value in open networking, building out large virtual networks and digging wells before they’re thirsty, please join my spanking new Windmill Networking LinkedIn Group. Yeah, I know, not so many members yet, but once we all get plugged into the same grid I am confident it will grow and provide tremendous value to all of us!
The minute I post this, some of you are going to start recommending other LIONs & Super Connectors that did not make my list. I welcome all suggestions! If you want to be on this list, I do plan to post updates, so please, connect and communicate with me! I look forward to hearing from you.
Happy Networking Everyone!
Note: It has been brought up to my attention that Barack Obama is no longer open to receiving invitations…