Sunday 22 January 2012

My Social Graph: Linkedin Professional Network

I recently tried out Linkedin Lab's InMaps product which visualizes your professional social graph (see image below). Apart from it creating a great visualization of my own professional data, I found it quite interesting how it seems to capture pivotal sets of relationships that have shaped my professional life and essentially weights them according to their inter-connectedness.

The largest mass of blue connections on the right are a result of a former company I worked for called Blast Radius. They are a digital agency so I was exposed to many short-term or contract employees throughout all the projects I worked on. Blast Radius is a global company so the clump of green connections in the top right are mostly the European based employees and contractors that I worked with.

Smaller clumps of connections on the bottom and bottom-left are due to the startup company I currently work for, RESAAS, classmates during my university days and various people I met while working for Toshiba Medical in the United Kingdom. Finally the smallest clumps scattered around are due to friends, family and football team members whom I have connected with over the years.

So what value can be extracted from this InMaps visualization?
  1. Information that I create or update on Linkedin clearly has a bias towards being seen and/or acted upon by current and former Blast Radius employees in Canada, the United States and across Europe. Therefore when I post something or update my profile I can take this into account as I now have a better understanding of who my audience actually is.
  2. I have heard it said before that you never have more access to connect with people than when you are in university. That may still be true but given that Linkedin was in its infancy around the time I was in university and the fact that I have taken the opportunity to connect with many people in each professional setting I have worked in, my current professional social graph indicates that my current university connections take on an increasingly smaller part of my overall ability to connect with people worldwide.
  3. The visualization says nothing about the individual importance of each connection or group of connections that make up my professional social graph. However, by using my own judgement about the people I am closest too and/or have the ability to influence the most, I can roughly identify how to spend my time wisely to either obtain the information I'm looking for or to maximise the reach of information that I would like people to know or act upon.

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