[UPDATE: LinkedIn Removed access to their networking tool on September 1, 2014. The notice indicating that they were working on new tools for users to map their personal networks on LinkedIn.]
Network mapping is a process of using graphics tools and algorithms to create visualizations of many varieties of, among many others, social, business, telecommunications, biological, and financial networks.
Given the wide availability of these capabilities, have you ever wondered what a visual map of your own network on LinkedIn might actually look like? If so, I highly recommend a click-through to LinkedIn Maps to quickly generate such a map. The site will ask your permission to access your LinkedIn account and then just take a few minutes to produce the map. After the image appears, you can use the “+” and “-” icons in the upper left to zoom in on the map. As you do this, you will see the names of your contacts begin to appear. When you click on a contact you will then see who that person is also connected to in your personal network and a brief summary of their work information in a sidebar on the right.
Besides giving form and shape to your network, this can be quite helpful in a job search or for business development as you start to see who is connected with whom in your network. What is really quite valuable and interesting in that you will likely find that there are members of you network who will be “hubs” connected to many others in your network, as well as those who are more like “spokes” with fewer connections.
Also, the color coding of different groupings of contacts is automatically done by some commonality of employment, education or other types of organizations. When you click on any specific contact within the graphic it will immediately highlight all of that person’s networking connections within your own network. There is a tool available in the interface to label these color concentrated sectors of your network.
Here is an example of what my LinkedIn network looks like (at a lower resolution so that the individual names do not appear):
A Google search of social and business network mapping tools will produce a lengthy roster of other apps similar to LinkedIn Maps with a great diversity in their graphical and analytical capabilities.