For this activity, I used Socilab to create a visual of my LinkedIn network. Socilab is a free/open source web app providing an automated way of visualizing one’s network. In addition, it calculates many metrics used in social network analysis and provides a brief explanation of what those metrics represent as related to network absolute and effective size, network constraints, density and hierarchy.
However, its ability to analyze a network is limited to 500 contacts. Since my LinkedIn contacts exceeded that limit, I decided to perform a cleanup with the objective of removing most of the contacts that in the past have requested to connect with me without knowing me in person or through a 1st-degree connection. As part of the exercise, I decided to also remove connections that I have never heard from them for years nor have they been active in contributing to discussions. Reflecting on last week’s readings about participatory cultures, my rational around this decision was that if my connections believed that their contributions matter and felt some degree of social connection to their network, or see themselves as informal mentors willing to pass their knowledge to others (Jenkins, 2009), then they would have been active and have participated in LinkedIn discussions. Having managed to drop the number of contacts from 536 to 332, I decided to keep a few key contacts with whom I don’t have direct contact but whom I follow as major influencers, such as Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group).
In Figure 1, I could see how I am connected (blue node in the middle) with people working in different industries. The reason I generated this graphic representation first, is because LinkedIn is a professional network and my collaboration and contribution activities on this type of social media are directly related to what I do. On the left-hand side of the visual, I notice that most of my contacts come from the airline and global aviation community. This is particularly true since the majority of my professional experience has been earned from working for two major airlines and an international aviation organization. Among my 1st-degree contacts there are quite a few former colleagues (grey nodes) who are connected with the same people as I do. It was interesting to see that my network is spread across continents and notice that some of my contacts have moved to different industries but still appear in the same industry as those that are currently working in it.
On the central right-hand side, I located another cluster of my network: my learning industry contacts. These contacts have been mostly added from 2008 onwards, after moving to Canada. I graduated from an adult education program and became an IPL (formerly CSTD) CTDP certified member in 2010 and 2011 respectively where I had the opportunity to meet other learning professionals in conferences and workshops. I started connecting with them on LinkedIn and kept in touch ever since.
At another network cluster just above the previous one, I located people from different industries and fields who I met when I was in transition and endeavoured to network with all kinds of people during networking meetings at Knightsbridge and at companies I was interested working for.
The nodes that are spread around my main network clusters are some friends and non-industry related people, such as vendors and recruiters who I just keep for strategic purposes.
Figure 1: Network by industry with connections to self
Figure 2, shows my network in relation to location. I found this image quite interesting, as I have lived and worked in Europe and a couple of cities in Canada. The larger cluster of nodes represents contacts that have ties to one another in Europe and in Montreal. The lower part of the visual shows my contacts in Toronto and in the US.
I notice that there are some nodes spread around the visual who are not linked to others and are located in different countries around the world. Therefore, as an outcome of this network analysis, I believe that there is an opportunity for me to investigate who my stand-alone nodes might know from the rest connected network and try to have everyone “linked in”.
Figure 2: Network by location without connections to self
Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. MIT Press.