How's your LinkedIn game? I admit that I was never very active on the LinkedIn platform before, but I've got the zeal of a convert for 2020

As it happens, LinkedIn just published a big list of the people it thinks are using the professional social network especially well, which it calls "Top Voices."

Some of the honorees included the sorts of people you'd expect to make the list: big names who might well have an army of staffers helping them pump content onto the platform each day. 

But others on the lists, 293 people in total, by my count, are more surprising. Check out the lists, and how they use the platform, if you'd like to have a shot at making the list next year.

'Influencers' and 'Top Voices'

We should start by pointing out that there are two kinds of lists: 

  • The Top Voices among LinkedIn Influencers (capital "I" on "Influencers), who are the "global collection of leaders, thinkers and innovators," as LinkedIn puts it, who get a little "in" symbol next to their profiles.
  • Top Voices in geographic areas, or in specicial industries and fields, where the people named to the list don't have to be capital-I "Influencers."

LinkedIn says its big-I Influencers get the badge, but don't get any special promotion on site. It also says it created its Top Voices lists by using "a combination of quantitative and qualitative signals, starting with an algorithm developed by LinkedIn's data scientists and layering on curation by our LinkedIn Editors."

Beyond that, they looked at

  • the "volume of responses a person's contributions sparked and the secondary spread of those responses,"
  • asked if the member's contributions to the platform were "insightful, conversational and timely," and whether they sought "to give and get help vs being self-promotional," and finally
  • overall, whether the list they'd compiled would "reflect the world we work in today?" 

Here's how the top 20 Influencers list for the United States shook out:

  1. Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and founder, Pivotal Ventures
  2. Adam Grant, who I assume is best known as an Inc.com columnist, right? But he's also a bestselling author, TED talker, and organizational psychologist at Wharton
  3. Sara Blakely, CEO and founder, Spanx
  4. Daymond John, CEO, FUBU and The Shark Group
  5. Ray Dailo, CIO and chairman, Bridgewater Associates
  6. Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global
  7. Indra Nooyi, Former chairman & CEO, PepsiCo
  8. Mike Bloomberg, Presidential candidate, former mayor of New York City, founder Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthorpies
  9. Gary Vaynerchuk, Chairman, VaynerX and CEO, Vayner Media
  10. Katie Couric, Founder, Katie Couric Media
  11. Arne Sorenson, President & CEO, Marriott International
  12. Doug McMillon, President & CEO, Walmart
  13. Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO & President Ariel Investments
  14. Ramon Laguarta, Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo
  15. Sallie Krawcheck, CEO & Co-foudner, Elleve
  16. Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines
  17. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General, UN, and Executive Director of UN Women
  18. Marilyn Hewson, Chairman, President and CEO, Lockheed Martin
  19. Nicholas Thompson, Editor in Chief, Wired
  20. Sally Susman, EVP & Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Pfizer

Other lists

On the Global Voices List, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau it list as the number-1 "Top Voice."

Besides being active and influential, making that list required having as many subscribers outside your country as in it.

A few of the others on the Global list include:

Three people made more than one list: Gates (#1 on U.S. and #5 globally), Branson, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

In case you are wondering, as far as I can tell President Trump doesn't actually have a LinkedIn profile, so he would not have qualified to be considered. (I'm sure if Twitter did a similar list of top voices, he'd be at or near the top in terms of reach.)

'Don't overthink it'

Additionally, there are region and country-specific lists, including Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, France, Latin America, the Gulf, India, Australia, and the UK. 

You'll also find industry-specific lists, such as those for software, entrepreneurship and small business, careers, marketing, retail, sales, education, finance, and data science.

LinkedIn editor in chief Daniel Roth and his team asked the honorees for their advice on how to increase reach on LinkedIn, and possibly make the list next year.

Their top tips:

  • Authenticity is key.
  • Don't overthink it. 
  • Find your niche.
  • Make sure you're providing value.

So if you're wondering whether it's possible to start from a smaller base and become influential on LinkedIn, the answer might just be yes. See you on the plaform.