inMaps is an interesting feature of LinkedIN used to visualize professional networks.
Understanding the underlying dynamics of Social Networks is of crucial importance for a successful business and the topic is thoroughly researched.
The very short version is somehow counter-intuitive: a healthy network should be sparse, that is, include loosely connected individuals.
The main target of managing network is to gather valuable information or resources from it. As the theory goes, this is more likely if contacts would not be able to connect with each other without your involvement. Structural holes are opportunities for knowledge brokerage that is, the exchange of information or resources between areas of the network. As an added bonus, loosely connected individuals are likely to be able to reach beyond your usual environment: it’s not who you know, it’s who they know!
On the other hand, highly connected structures, offer less potentials as the level of knowledge will be homogeneous. If somebody is interacting mainly with the same contacts, say the same high-school class, the network map would look very dense, and every node will be able to get information without involving you. In this case, contacts are likely to share the same level of knowledge and there is not much value available. as mentioned, social networks are fascinating entities, and I will write more on the topic.
Looking now at my LikedIN network map below, it reflects fairly accurately my past. I have three main clusters highlighted by different colors:
- Bombardier: I worked in different countries and roles, the colors represent locations or departments
- Alstom Power: here I have been only in Switzerland, colors represent departments. Notably, there is a certain degree of exchange between these two first clusters as firms operates in similar industries.
- Oxford: this is the most far-reaching and diverse cluster in my network. Interestingly, it took only 18 months to gain as many contacts as in my earlier jobs. Colors represent different sub-network (my class, other classes, academics, etc)
Geroski. P.A. 2003. The Evolution of New Markets (TENM). Oxford University Press
Borgatti, S.P., A. Mehra, D.J. Brass, and G. Labianca. 2009. “Network analysis in the social sciences,” Science, vol. 323 (5916), pp 892-895. 13 Feb