Per @King Kovifor's post here, since it looks like Followers typically does nothing, why not combine the Following and Followers list into one contacts list? It would work similar to vBulletin where you send your request and the receiver can choose to accept or ignore it.
The Follow link would be changed to "Send Contact Request"
Here's an example how it would play out: Upon clicking it, the receiving user gets an alert: "User has sent you a contact request. Click here to manage your contact requests." Alternatively, they can go to the sender's profile and click one of two links: "Accept contact request" or "Deny contact request."