There’s a lot of great tools on LinkedIn to help present yourself effectively on-line, and to truly “connect” with your network. But it’s sometimes tough to visualize your network with just a list of contacts. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could see a map of your connections, and how they relate to you and to each other?

Well, there is, and it’s called LinkedIn Maps – although it’s hidden in the world of LinkedIn Labs. It’s where LinkedIn posts some of their beta-programs and work-in-progress, including some quirky applications (more on that later). Click on the image to the left and you’ll see how it works.

 

By identifying the unifying theme within your contacts, it creates clusters of people, and gives you a colorful map that could be neutrons in your brain.

My friend and colleague Dave Kenneth immediately saw the potential. At a recent Sales Meeting, we introduced the LinkedIn Map to the team, with the following suggestion. If map shows that the majority of contacts come from your current or former employer, then it’s time to LinkIn to customers and clients. Take 5 minutes a day to send invitations out to existing customer contacts, and broaden your network.

LinkedIn Maps seems to center primarily on companies, and then leaves other clusters for you to label yourself. It’s not perfect (hence the Labs) – for example, on my map it has two different colors that seem to both contain family & friends, without an obvious differentiator between them. And this highlights the major weakness, which is that there is currently no way to re-label a particular contact if it falls into the wrong group. I’m sure the smart folks at LinkedIn are working on that.

A couple of other programs on LinkedIn Labs that I thought were interesting – Swarm gives you a fun visualization of various searches on LinkedIn (see inset); and DropIn lets you play Tetris with pictures of your contacts (I promised quirky!).

Take a look at LinkedIn Maps, and let me know how you might use it to improve your network.

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