Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that we've been eagerly anticipating the day when infographics finally crossover into everyday life, as a first-class tool. Well then, today brings something of a watershed moment: LinkedIn, the work focused social-networking site, has unveiled InMaps, a tool that maps your entire social network, color coded by associations. The idea is that the maps will allow you to see the prime connectors in your network — and spot areas ripe for connecting, given the right introductions.
The InMap tool has been around for awhile, and it isn't technology built by LinkedIn. But this simple, public web app is new, and it's terrific. It's really nothing too complicated — and that's the beauty. It takes just a minute to generate your own map, and it makes immediate sense. Various affiliations are color coded and the bigger a node is, the more strongly connected a person is in a particular network. You might imagine these as the hubs — the central switch points for information on a previous employer, for example. What you might not expect is that the map readily shows you the areas of opportunity.
For example, here's my map. In the maroon color I've labeled "Cross Connectors," you can see that these people happen to span disparate areas of my own work history. Moreover, you can also see, in the green and orange, that there are people who might benefit from an introduction, given all the network overlaps:
But maybe the most powerful feature of the map is also the most simple: InMaps finally makes it easy to peer deep into your network — to remind yourself of people you know but might not have thought about in years. Those connections we've forgotten often prove to be the most valuable, but if you were just using LinkedIn, they might be buried and unrecognized in the arduous task of hunting and clicking.
[Create your own InMap here.]