We all love a pretty picture, right? Well, here is a nice application of network data from LinkedIn Labs (they have a labs group – who knew?). Basically, you login to LinkedIn and the tool processes your network information and turns it into a stunning network map. Then it is up to you to label the groupings of colour that represent your connection bases. Here’s mine.
And while this is cool in and of itself, the other thing that I like is that it is interactive. So not only can you click on each of these points of connection to see the person you are connected to, you can also see where your points of connection overlap. This gives you some sense of who you know, who you both know – and therefore some context for conversation – especially where your connection is purely virtual.
This can also yield insight. For example, I didn’t realise that David Alston from Radian6 is connected to Venessa Paech, the community manager at Lonely Planet until it was revealed here. But it makes sense. Especially if Lonely Planet use Radian6 for their social network monitoring.
So now I have (at least) five reasons to visualise my LinkedIn network:
- Surfacing connections: A little quick thinking can yield real value. Think through the reasons WHY people know each other and you will generate some real insight.
- Recommendation: Next time I speak with Venessa, I can ask for her opinion or recommendation on Radian6 (should I be considering it)
- Relationship and context is enhanced: knowing who and knowing what adds depth to online relationships. This is essential in a world where business relationships can be carried out across geographic boundaries
- Demonstrating the value of the network: Building out your personal network can take a great deal of time. Sometimes you won’t know when you will get a return on your investment. This sort of tool makes a network of business connections far more fascinating.
- Firing-up your creativity: Maybe this is just me, but there is something slightly addictive in this. Being able to click and connect is allowing me to see possibilities I simply had not realised. The power of visualisation feels like it is making sense of the underlying network data for me, and freeing me to think about action (what to do) rather than figuring out where to go.
Now – that is useful!