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LinkedIn now lets you follow big thinkers, or even become one

LinkedIn, looking to lure more of its 175 million users to visit its website regularly, has begun inviting members to follow a cast of 150 "influential thought leaders."

Following them doesn't mean you're necessarily linking in with them, as you might do now with current and past colleagues, but it does feed you a stream of their posts on topics from careers to current events, such as the presidential race. LinkedIn members could already follow topics, groups and personal connections.

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Among those on the list are assorted LinkedIn honchos, including co-founder Reid Hoffman and CEO Jeff Weiner, plus ubiquitous types such as Guy Kawasaki and Tony Robbins (can't find them on any other social sites, right?). Others include UK Prime Minister David Cameron, investor T. Boone Pickens, Altimeter Group founder and leadership expert Charlene Li, media mogul Richard Branson and U.S. President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney. Just how frequently these big names (or their ghost writers) contribute posts remains to be seen. The early posts tend to be what you might expect: a mix of rah-rah stuff ("Dream. Fit. Passion.") and business patter ("Who do you want your customers to become?").

Others on the list include more tech-related names, including FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski and MIT Media Lab's Joichi Ito.

If you think that you have what it takes to be considered an "INfluencer" yourself, LinkedIn invites you to apply

LinkedIn, moving forward from the big data breach earlier this year that exposed some 6.5 million passwords to an underground forum, has been enhancing the site consistently. Among other recent updates are improved company profile pages and better tools for the quarter of its users who visit the site via mobile devices.

Connect with Bob on LinkedIn.

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