Conan fails to become No. 1 on LinkedIn, resorts to begging

Conan O'Brien seems embarrassed that he's only garnered a paltry 68,000 followers on LinkedIn. So he does what so many business people do -- he fawns and begs, like a company on Kickstarter.

Who are these people?
Conan Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The trouble with the famous is that they think everyone loves them.

They believe that wherever they are, they will be the most popular person in the room. Even if that room is a courtroom.

Former network talk show host Conan O'Brien is beginning to understand that, while he may be popular in frivolous environs, being taken seriously as a business guru is much harder.

Should you have merely been going about your own business recently, you might not know that O'Brien decided that he needed to scale the highest heights of LinkedIn.

He sniffed that Bill Gates was a failure and that he, the great Conan, was LinkedIn's Malcolm Gladwell.

He was elected a LinkedIn influencer and proceeded to stun the business world with his lack of basic knowledge.

Now, he's beginning to see the tactic didn't work. On his show on Monday, he bemoaned the fact that he had a mere 68,133 followers.

Yes, 50 percent of those who view his show had already dutifully signed up to hang on his every LinkedIn word.

Yet he was still behind Greg McKeown, the renowned author of some book about existentialism.

Conan tried to affect a blase air, but his forehead furrows seemed to be growing furrows of their own.

So he did what all entertainers do when things suddenly aren't going their way: he begged.

"We're on our way to the top of LinkedIn," he said, reminding one of Howard Dean's less successful oratorical period.

He then added, fawningly: "But I must have more followers."

He wanted his viewers to believe that he had copied and outdone Craig Newmark of Craigslist, who has posted a LinkedIn profile picture of himself with President Obama.

So Conan claimed that he'd posted a picture of himself with ex-presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Teddy Roosevelt (standing in the palm of Pope Francis).

He must have felt confident that viewers would immediately leap to their second screens and follow him on LinkedIn.

Some sheep-like acolytes did. He now has 74,650 followers.

But many must have been disappointed that Conan's profile doesn't, in fact, have an enhanced image of him. It's still the slightly fey one he launched himself with.

So despite the dirty, underhand and very businesslike tactic of using his show to bow, beg and scrape for more followers, Conan is still a long, long way from the likes of Richard Branson who have surpassed the million. (Indeed, Branson now has almost 3 million.)

I suppose Conan will console himself with the fact that he has 74,650 more followers than Jimmy Fallon, who is not a LinkedIn influencer, despite being on network TV.

Fallon has a mere 11 connections, adding to the notion that LinkedIn should be beneath comedians.

I fear that the need to scale the No. 1 social network for business is wearing on Conan. I worry that he may be unable to take the disappointment, if he doesn't somehow manage to beg his way to the top.

After what the suits did to him at NBC, I fear that no plastic surgery, no self-help book and not even Dr. Oz can help to heal the scars.