I’m a big believer in the power of semantic technologies to summarize, conceptualize or classify personal information. For example, I think in future we will read less of a book, website or document and read our semantically generated summaries more. I wrote briefly recently on how that could work with search. LinkedIn is trying to bring reason, order and insight to your LinkedIn connections, with its new mapping tool InMaps
So I just used and completed labeling LinkedIn’s new mapping tool. The tool groups together your contacts. And in grouping them together it also separates them into logical groupings. LinkedIn says it can help you see where you lack connections – for example in a job that was important in your career but where you just didn’t come away with enough connections. And one of its outputs is to highlight people who seem to be instrumental in how you have built your network.
I still find LinkedIn a little distant from my professional needs as a freelancer and my first reaction is I don’t think that InMaps is going to help me much. It’s a puzzle to me – suggesting that there are influencers in my professional life that in reality have no bearing on what I do. The people it claims have influenced me, in fact have not. Maybe you will have more luck with that feature.
But the more I stare at it, the more I realize there is a value here. What it is telling me very clearly is that I really don’t use my network. I don’t communicate with most of the people in it. And typically I have labelled it by organization, largely by the company where I met the people grouped together.
I think the real value here is a different order of semantics other than company. If LinkedIn were telling me who I communicate with, if there was a LinkedIn function to process a work contract, perhaps from Echosign, if my profile could be better adapted to my freelance status, if there were channels that my network could share RFPs or freelance opportunities with me ad me with them….
InMaps isn’t what I need right now but as the workforce becomes externalized and free I think LinkedIn has a great opportunity to become my essential social, business network. First though please sort out the privacy issues LinkedIn! The reason I haven’t duplicated my network map here is it reveals all of my contacts.
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