by Nathan Egan
on February 10, 2011

LinkedIn InMaps – A Useful User Guide

Not just a “cool” visual:
LinkedIn recently released a new tool to help you understand and visualize your network – it is called InMaps. Unfortunately most of the sentiment we found on the web is that people just think it is “cool”, “pretty”, or in many cases, “useless”…

Freesource sees this very differently; we believe InMaps represent one of the most powerful new analytical business tools available on the market.

For Business:
Individual professionals and corporations can use InMaps to make smart business decisions to help them achieve their strategic business objectives. Here is how:

First, your map should NOT have lots of overly-dense, hyper-connected clusters, with little to no distance between color clouds… like in the image above which represents a typical InMap of a LinkedIn Open Networker (aka LION). A network full of hundreds or thousands of meaningless connections won’t be valuable in helping the average business professional move the needle for: Sales, Marketing, Recruiting, Research, Resource Management, etc.

So if your map has that kind of crazy overlap – it’s probably time to rethink you’re connection strategy. Our suggestion is to disconnect from everyone you don’t know and would not vouch for in the real world. Most people can’t even fathom the idea of disconnecting from their uber networks that took years to build up. We say get over “it” and here is our theory:

A healthy/normal network should provide real, tangible insights about your career, education, and professional relationships. Are your best clients represented as their own clusters on your InMap? Do you have strong or weak groupings from previous employers, schools, and life experiences? You should be able to tell very easily.

Take a look at the InMap below from someone who runs a tight, closed network – it is much easier to evaluate and understand the story / history of this individual, each distinct pocket and the connections between them have real meaning:

Hidden Value:
Use InMaps to find hidden value in your network and look for gaps and opportunities where you’re not currently connected. Are there any surprises in your network? What are the trends and patterns?

Need proof this will work? Here is a great exercise – take a PDF snapshot of your current InMap (make sure you label it) and then identify the opportunity gaps in your network. Then set a goal to focus on making better, more meaningful connections from now on (to reiterate: clients, prospects, partners, classmates, family, etc).

Then, every quarter take a new snapshot of your network. Use this to identify new opportunities and potential hidden ROI in your network. If done correctly we can nearly guarantee you will experience a natural lift in your ability to meet your strategic business objectives. Why? You will leveraging your best network (your real world network) to get things done!

What is the logic behind your LinkedIn network? Are you just connecting to everyone because some LinkedIn super guru told you to? You won’t be able to create logical meaning or experience real business value from your network if you are connected to hundreds or thousands of people you don’t know… and you probably get a lot of spam too.