This week, I decided to experiment with LinkedIn Maps, a recently new function provided by the social platform LinkedIn.
As you can read on the home page of the feature, it consists of “your professional world. Visualized. Map your professional network to understand the relationships between you and your connections”.
I found the idea of having a visual of all my LinkedIn's professional connections of interest. Here it is:
At the beginning I looked at it with fascination (and a little bit of perplexity, I must admit). Like if I was in front of a piece of abstract art, I was trying to figure out a possible meaning of what at the beginning seemed to me just the picture of a colourful meteorite in the sky.
However, after exploring my meteorite and playing with it, I was surprised to notice the potential usefulness of having this sort of representation of my professionals connections.
You can examine your own map by dragging it, moving it, zooming it and going dip into details of every single connection.
Different colours are meant to describe different types of relationships. For examples, my blue area shows the connections that I have with other professionals who are involved with internal communications.
Within this area I can see my colleagues, people who like me are part of associations and groups of interest in internal communications, plus all the other connections that share with me the interest in this particular profession.
I can also make a distinction between those connections who are more involved with internal social media and enterprise social networks, and those who are more in employee engagement and leadership communications (some of the latter moving towards the orange area). Again, I can find the people who work in publishing, the ones who work in-house and the ones who do consultancy.
Thanks to this social graph I can recall many contacts that I made with internal communicators in the past and with which I have not been in touch recently. This could represent a good opportunity to re-connect and re-engage with professionals from whom I have not heard for a while.
By clicking on each node of the network you can also see the full profile of a particular connection. This implies seeing which kind of professional relationships that specific person has developed, which groups they are interested in, the companies and news they are following, projects they are working on, etc.
Can this be relevant to internal communicators?
In the 21st century, limiting and confining the social connections of an internal communicator to the walls of their organisations, could be detrimental to the value of their profession. Instead, knowing who and what other internal communications professionals know, think and do, and being able to connect with people with particular kind of information and skills in this area, could be very meaningful and useful to them.
They can strengthen their relationships with other individuals involved in internal communications, engage with them, form communities, share and broaden their knowledge and expertise of this particular subject so that so to ultimately maximise their role, develop their work and contributions to their companies.
Exploring past, current and potentially new professional relationships; connecting with people who have particular kind of abilities and insights that might be of relevance for particular projects; joining new groups of interest; sharing valuable information with others interested in the industry...these are just a few examples of what internal communications professionals could ultimately do from exploring their own 'meteorite' through LinkedIn Maps.