A LinkedIn Influencer is a designation given to approximately 500 professionals who've been invited to publish on LinkedIn. As leaders in their industries, geographies, and seniority, they discuss topics of interest, such as leadership, management, hiring and firing, disruption, and how to succeed. (This definition comes directly from the LinkedIn site).
Apparently these are people LinkedIn has also determined to have something to say. While you can’t apply to be an Influencer, the people behind LinkedIn regularly change this list and invite these people to initiate or contribute to discussions of relevant matters.
Is this something important to you? Will following an Influencer land you a better job? Probably not, however, it will make you better informed about world events. Maybe it is a little gimmicky and maybe the list is a little contrived, but on the other hand, LinkedIn has so many members that it is impossible to find the ones outside your sphere that might change the way you think about things.
I look at the Influencers as a perk to LinkedIn membership. The fact that LinkedIn has done the heavy lifting, as it were, saves me some time and energy when looking at my connections and potential connections. If you are looking at LinkedIn to build relationships, it might not be too effective in that regard. What I do find interesting is realizing that many of my business connections are following the same people. While I don’t know if it is for the same reasons, it gives me another reason to reconnect with them.
My feeling is that more information and connections is never a bad thing.