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Posts Tagged ‘connectors’

InMaps inventor DJ Patil talks through his LinkedIn map

January 26, 2011 6 comments

InMaps is such an exciting new feature of LinkedIn – it’s occupied my thinking on Personal Networks for the last couple of days since writing my original post on the subject. DJ Patil is the Chief Scientist at LinkedIn – and seems to have been in charge of driving this project. Watch this video to see him explaining his network (and those of a couple of others) – with the advantage of a very large piece of paper!

It’s fascinating to see that this rich map has been algorithmically defined on connections – and does not use the

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metadata (often inconsistent) input by LinkedIn users.

Over at Flowdata (the very best place to find updates on visualisation) – DJ took time to comment on the blog post by Nathan Yau (Flowdata’s founder). He said:

One thing that we should note about the calculation is that this only uses the “graph” of connections. We don’t use any other information. I think that is one of the very powerful aspects of this visualization. For example, in my case, it identifies my wife’s networks, students, people I went to grad school with, etc. Additionally there are a couple of reasons why this was a challenge. A) Getting everything to work in the browser in a smooth way from small networks (come on Nathan you need to add some connections :-)) to larger networks. B) The ability to “process” as many user’s networks as they use the site. There are over 85M users and that requires some serious processing power. We’ll do a more extensive write up when we can and I can say I was surprised by how much compute power we had to apply to make this real.

DJ’s key points are that the “groups” of different colours are formed by connections. He also discussed the challenges of implementing this sort of visualisation to the huge LinkedIn following. Would be interested to see how the servers have performed the last couple of days.

Well done DJ – this is certainly a real help to my research on Personal Networks.

Copper Wires, Social Capital and Murdering Relationships

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment

I continue to be impressed by the quality of people who can be found on-line. My most recent discovery has been Martin Gargiulo – who is a professor at INSEAD.

My first introduction to his work was a 16 minute video (posted below). His key point (which I agree with) is that there’s much more to networks than meets the eye. While some networks are an asset that helps you get things done, other networks can also be a liability.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Throughout the video interview, he compares the reciprocal relationship between people in the network to electrical copper wires. Firstly, he says that the thicker

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the copper wire – the more energy in the relationship. He goes on to use the same analogy to say that these cables do not rot – and can be easily reactivated. It’s a good way to consider those weak ties (and often close relationships) where our communication is infrequent.

I was greatly amused by how he describes that relationships have to be pro-actively broken. He says that “you must murder” a relationship to really break it! The relationship – not the person…

The video supports an on-line survey that Martin has created to measure the Social Capital of your Personal Network. There is a charge (€20) – but I would definitely recommend. I completed it (did not take long) and the 9 page report gives an excellent overview (with supporting narrative) of your Personal Network. It also compares your score against a reference group. Click here to read more – and hopefully give it a try.

Would love to compare results – and discuss further.

Strength in Weak Twits (ties)

December 3, 2010 9 comments

I’ve always been interested in Mark Granovetter’s theory around the “Strength in Weak Ties.” In the 1970s he asked a group of people about how they had got their job. Of those who found jobs through personal contacts 55.6% reported seeing their contact occasionally (more than once a year, but less than twice a week) and 27.8% rarely (once a year or less). When asked whether a friend had told them about their current job, the most frequent answer was “not a friend, an acquaintance.”

I’m very much a weak tie man. I love serendipity – and I enjoy matching people up who have similar interests/objectives from all over the place. This week has been a joy for me – with my new found love of Twitter. It’s not the chatting that I like – it’s the opening up of a new world of people with similar

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interests/objectives to me. I’m enjoying creating the seeds of relationships at the very outer circles of my Personal Network.

Here are some examples of people who have appeared in the last 7 days who seem to share my passion for Personal Networks….



Jason Armishaw
@jasonarmishaw from New Zealand. His business is the PeoplePeople. He also has a new business launching in 2011 – like me! I “discovered” Jason when he wrote a great blog piece “Is Off-line Networking Dead?”


Heather Townsend @joinedupnetwork from Milton Keynes, UK. She is the Author of the forthcoming book The FT Guide to Biz Networking. Her business is called JoinedUpNetworking. I came across Heather when she wrote a blog post called “When does a contact become a genuine connection?”

Jordi Robert-Ribes @jordi_pro is based in Andorra. His speciality seems to be Networking into New Worldsand is also an Investments Director. Again through Twitter, I found a very seasonal blog post “Christmas cards don’t nurture your network”

Jason Jacobsohn @JasonJacobsohn is over in Chicago. He’s definitely part of Malcolm Gladwell’s band of Connectors – and speak on networking. His company is called Networking Insight. The post that I found via Twitter was “9 Reasons why your Network is your Greatest Asset”. If you get the chance – head over there and add to the list!

There were a bunch of other people too – but these 4 stand out as understanding the Value of Personal Networks. Overall, a great first week on Twitter – and I’m very happy that my Personal Network is being enriched by these distant links.

Mia, the rainshower, the Yellow Suit, Cuban Dance and Profit Power Economics

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, earlier in my blog, I did mention that I had a tenuous link to a person in my PNN (“Personal Network” Network). Mia de Kuijper is a world leading economist/strategist – with strong view on “power nodes”.

I have actually met Mia once – and reading her book “Profit Power” my thinking change from looking at solutions in the area of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to understanding the power of individual components/nodes (in my case people) in the new economy.

Anyway, my meeting with Mia was caused by an early arrival at

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a Theatre (near the London School of Economics) to watch Cuban Dance! There was a rain storm – and a bookshop was open at the back of LSE. My wife and I dashed for cover and were confronted by a staff getting ready to lock up – and a lady in a stunning yellow suit finishing signing books. Who could resist a book on economics! She kindly signed the book – and as well as brilliant night at the theatre … I got a great insight in to the power of positioning yourself correctly in the new economy.

In particular she introduced me to the work of Albert-László Barabási. She describes in her book his work on Internet search engines and Hollywood figures that produced “Powerlaw Networks”. Although the book focusses on the strategic positioning of businesses in the global market place – the principles are equally applicable to an individual finding their place in the world through finding the right place in their network (much like Barabási’s Hollywood figures did naturally!).

Mia’s book was certainly the first step in me stopping thinking of contacts as Rolodex cards or Outlook VCF files – and much more as nodes in our networks, stars in our solar system!

Thank you Mia.

Triple Paths – blogging, Personal Networks and “Finding an Angle”

August 11, 2010 2 comments

Well, it’s been over a week since the last post.  It’s not that I’ve been twiddling my thumbs – it’s just the triple paths of blogging, investigating personal networks and trying to work out the commercial opportunity all compete for and absorb my time!

BLOGGING – as you will know, I have set out to investigate Personal Networks – and specifically being able to visualise them.  Well, I thought that I should start to make a commitment to visualise my findings on the subject and have been in conversation with the best in the business – Lee LeFever at Common Craft. I’ve also been checking out a recommended course on quick-fire video blogging from Gideon Shalwick at Rapid Video Blogging. Interestingly Lee is probably out of my price range – and Gideon has given me enough tips for free that I don’t need to take the course! The research continues (along with should I move from WordPress.com to Worpress.org!).

PERSONAL NETWORKS – I have finally finished Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Who’s Got Your Back”. It’s only been a slow read because of

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so many things to do – and wanting to take in so many other books. It’s a great personal development book – and it’s the best I have read that illustrates that your Personal Network has a “core”. Keith believes that even with a wide network, you need a very close group of people that look out for you in times of pressure/trouble. Keith uses his book title “Who’s Got Your Back” to pull this “core” role together – but also runs useful analogies of the 12 Apostles (even taking the analogy further when a rogue apostle leaves!). I am impressed by the way Keith opens his heart in parts of the book. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs about his first book “Never Eat Alone”, Keith is a confident guy – but in this book he really lays himself bare to help people understand his networking principles (Four Mind-sets of Generosity, Vulnerability, Candor and Accountability). The books threatens to peter out (with long explanations of his business’s work with clients) – but I loved the final chapter where he appeals to us all to “escape silo nation”. I hate the modern way of working in “silos” – so what a great “rally call” for me!

“Finding an Angle” – I am just starting reading a new book – it’s self-published by Neal Schaffer of Windmill Network and called “Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn”. I’ve become a fan of Neal’s blog – and he’s doing a great job on the gradual conversion of a LinkedIn cynic. Just finished Preface and first chapter – and already inspired by his growth of contacts from zero to 18,000 plus. Will be interested to see whether he commercialises his niche. Meanwhile, I am contemplating how Gideon gives away all his video teasers (which are very educational) – and leads you in to a course for $997, when Keith’s book leads to his Relationship Masters Academy for $2,000. We’re all looking for an angle- maybe I should consider training!!!??? … or a book….

Finally, I must say that I have enjoyed my “test study” with LinkedIn (reported a couple of blogs ago). I’m now up to 131 connections – and have pencilled in my notebook to get together to breakfast/lunch with at least 30 of them before the end of the year. There have been some diverse connections already (old contact who watched a friend perform at Edinburgh Festival, old photographer friend who can help with Artist in Residence project I am helping to initiate at Belvoir, etc).

If you are blogger/personal networker thrashing around the blogosphere trying to make sense of it all – do drop me a note or comment. Email is philobr@gmail.com if you want to mail direct.

Sent from my iPhone, so please forgive typos ..

August 2, 2010 3 comments

Well, I thought that I’d give LinkedIn a bit of a run out – seeing as the last blog post had been having some fun at its expense.

Remember – I’m not a big “networker” (especially on-line). At the start of this blog I had just over 60 connections – and had not pro-actively sought out connections. Also, for the last 4 years I have been “funemployed” after selling my business – so, I thought that I might be a good “test case” to give LinkedIn a real test drive.

I dug out my old contacts (about 1,400 from when I was working full-time) – mixed with a few people that I’ve got to know through projects in the last few years …. and tested how creating connections worked “en-masse” with LinkedIn. Basically, I trawled

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through the names – and chose 50 who I had enjoyed meeting/working with at various times. I mailed them each with a personal message, a request to connect – and a final paragraph that said “I’m just starting a project around “Personal Networks” – and your name came up on LinkedIn. Do you use it much?”.

I mailed the 50 over the last 24 hours – and the feedback so far is…..

* 5 Out of Office replies (not a great time of year to send these out – as people are on summer holidays/vacations)
* 31 Replied (29 Connections & 2 replied saying they did not really use it).

Some stats on the 50….

* Only 27% of them had pictures on their profile
* The average number of connections my contacts had was 96 (only one had 500+)
* 12 of them had less than 10 connections

The really nice news was, it was great to make contact again. Some really nice people who I had lost contact with – thank you LinkedIn. Other specific bonuses were that:-

* At least two lunches are to be fixed up in London in September
* I opened up discussions about a photo archive project that I’ve been following for a while
* A connection asked if I could help out with contacts in the Equestrian world – and I was able to make a couple of intros (bizarrely – didn’t realise my network stretched so far!)
* I was able to make recommendations to a couple of contacts who had recently been made redundant on how to get best use out of LinkedIn (pointed them towards Neal Schaffer’s excellent blog)
* I found someone who in the last year had got two projects through his LinkedIn network (it does work!)

…. and finally, the most exciting discovery of all….. the title of this blog post. “Sent from my iPhone, so please forgive typos ..”! What a great idea – at the bottom of the reply from my former colleague Graham Lovelace (http://www.lovelace.co.uk/contact.php). If you saw it here first – please give credit to Graham! I’ve always switched this signature off on Blackberrys and iPhones – but I will be using this from now on.

Thanks again LinkedIn – been a very pleasant 24 hours … and I’m now over the magic 100 connections!!

P.S. A little “don’t try this at home” warning. As I did all this research, mailings, analysis of connections, etc – I suddenly got a problem that every click was followed by a request to upgrade to LinkedIn’s Premium Account. See this story about LinkedIn accounts being suspended for overuse – I’ll lay off being so connected for the next few days.

[Update on 19th August – 45 have now replied from the 50]

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell – Review

July 22, 2010 2 comments

Now this book is a little older than my previous review (first published in 2000).  It’s a great read – not just for the insight to certain elements of Personal Networks.  If anyone wants to get a better understanding of psychology, how to be a better parent … or maybe even make significant changes in a country with limited resources (sounds like a relevant challenge) – this is the book to read.

Malcolm is a great writer/journalists – and mixes some solid research with anecdotes and interview.  It makes for a very enjoyable read.  The only section that seemed a little dated was on Sesame

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Street and Blues Clues (which revolutionised children’s TV in the 1970/80/90s) – but the rest was as relevant today as when written.

One of the best parts of the book was the short conclusion.  Often books finish off with an enthusiastic/rushed repetition of the main themes – but Malcolm leaves you with key thoughts/actions.

The two areas that significantly touched on Personal Networking were:-

*  Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.  I’ve mentioned the Connectors in a previous blog post.   The author explained these three types of characters well – and their role in the Tipping Point.  One thing he did not identify is how high a percentage of us have these characteristics.  I’ll have to research further on-line – or maybe ask him on his blog – http://www.gladwell.com/

*  Dunbar’s Number. He explains the principle of humans naturally having a most efficient group size of 150 people. Robin Dunbar (from Oxford University) has done research in to ancient civilisations – and modern business groups … and 150 keeps on recurring. There’s a great story about the Gore organisation (known for Gore-Tex) who only create buildings with 150 car park spaces, and when people start parking on the grass … they create a new building/division. Malcolm covers Dunbar’s ideas really well – and has set me on course to research this more thoroughly by reading Robin’s latest book – How Many Friends Does One Person Need?: Dunbar’s Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks.

Recommended reading – the research is great fun (my wife got bored with me telling her the amazing facts!!). I’m currently on a beach holiday – so will do the MindMap of the book when I get back to base. Anyone else read this book?

Love is the Killer App – Tim Sanders – Book Review & Mind Map

July 14, 2010 1 comment

You will have seen earlier in the blog that Tim Sanders kindly let me quote a passage from his blog – SandersSays His reply to my request was very much in character: “Love it, Phil!  You have my permission – thanks for sharing the Love.”

Well, I thought that with such a positive reply – I should read the 2002 First Edition copy of his book that I’d found second hand on Amazon … and make it my first book review on the blog.  Here goes…

The book was read in one session (on a nice sunny day in the garden!).  The “Knowledge” and “Network” sections are a particularly

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good read.  One of the lessons learnt from the book was that if you are going to read a book – take some serious notes and note down at the end what you think the Big Thought was from the book.

I’ve never been a great note taker – but thought I would try to Mind Map the book with the software that I am keeping my “Personal Network” Network up to date on – MindMeister.  Take a look at the MindMap of Tim’s Book – I’d be interested to see if this is helpful to others?

The three elements that I took from the book were:-

* In the business world it can be a very successful strategy to be generous and giving. He has a great mantra – NSPS “Nice, smart people succeed.”
* An important tool in this giving process is sharing knowledge with your friends and contacts. Tim has an excellent perspective on books which I will share later.
* A healthy network is “fed” by you making connections through giving & sharing your knowledge with others.

The book is a useful source if you are looking for some ideas on business reading. Although the book is now a little dated (published first in 2002) – I suspect that the references are still very relevant to business today. Take a look at the MindMap – there’s lots of references to Tim’s favorite books throughout. Certainly, Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” is next on my reading pile (and that’s mentioned frequently),

Tim emphasises the positive aspects for you and your network in giving and sharing ideas.  He puts forward that you should be the hunter/gatherer of information for your network.  He also sees that through this knowledge base you should evangelise about new ideas.  It’s an interesting concept – and Tim seems to have a humble approach to this (it’s know that he knows it all – he just knows a new idea through a book he has read by someone else.)

This theory will appeal to those with a thirst for knowledge (I’d count myself amongst these folk).  It also gives you a positive application for that knowledge by giving to your network selflessly.  Tim has a cool way of working out what he reads (he use the analogy for dining) with Magazine Articles – Between-meal snacks, News Media (electronic or print) – Candy & Soda, fun to eat, but hardly appropriate to live on and (his favourite!) Books – the complete thought meal.  It’s changed my perspective – and when you think that the other lighter meals are shoveled with those nasty additives (advertising!), you can see why books get a big thumbs up.

I liked the section on Networks.  I share the desire to impart information to others – and he talks well about fusing connections with this.  It’s also not a cynical view of giving in order to receive back (either payment as a broker – or expectation of a favour in return).  Interestingly he illustrates through personal examples how at the edges this can go wrong (when people he introduce cut him out of a deal) and when it goes right (when a contact – out of the blue – gives him share in his company that floats).

My British reserve makes me cringe slightly through the final “Compassion” section.  I’m not the huggy/touchy feely type – so this is a little lost on me.  Maybe if I meet Tim at some point and he gives me a hug I will understand the “Love”.

In summary, on my journey exploring personal networks, this is a fantastic book that helps you to understand the principle of giving generously to feed a network and applying yourself to gaining knowledge to to have something relevant to offer to your network.  I like the core principle of selflessness in that giving (very much like Keith Ferrazzi’s not keeping score in my earlier blog.)  I would also say, that personally, Tim’s tips on encoding and processing books are excellent – and will be in my blogging/networking toolkit from now on.

Great book – “Loved it!”.  Thank you, Tim.

Connectors – to be, or to know

July 9, 2010 1 comment

In building your Personal Network, it is important to identify early on whether you are a “Connector” … or you need to find “Connectors” to help your network grow.

The key principle is that there are a small number of people that are the centre of the social scene and seem to “know everyone”. We are probably in the minority here – and if so, to give your network the reach you want … you need to make friends with “connectors”.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point” gives an excellent

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illustration of this. Please try the test below (that is reproduced with Malcolm’s kind permission) – which is a short extract from his excellent book.

“What makes someone a Connector? The first–and most obvious–criterion is that Connectors know lots of people. They are the kinds of people who know everyone. All of us know someone like this. But I don’t think that we spend a lot of time thinking about the importance of these kinds of people. I’m not even sure that most of us really believe that the kind of person who knows everyone really knows everyone. But they do. There is a simple way to show this. In the paragraph below is a list of around 250 surnames, all taken at random from the Manhattan phone book. Go down the list and give yourself a point every time you see a surname that is shared by someone you know. (The definition of “know” here is very broad. It is if you sat down next to that person on a train, you would know their name if they introduced themselves to you, and they would know your name.) Multiple names count. If the name is Johnson, in other words, and you know three Johnsons, you get three points. The idea is that your score on this test should roughly represent how social you are. It’s a simple way of estimating how many friends and acquaintances you have.

Algazi, Alvarez, Alpern, Ametrano, Andrews, Aran, Arnstein, Ashford, Bailey Ballout, Bamberger, Baptista, Barr, Barrows, Baskerville, Bassiri, Bell, Bokgese, Brandao, Bravo, Brooke, Brightman, Billy, Blau, Bohen, Bohn, Borsuk, Brendle, Butler, Calle, Cantwell, Carrell, Chinlund, Cirker, Cohen, Collas, Couch, Callegher, Calcaterra, Cook, Carey, Cassell, Chen, Chung, Clarke, Cohn, Carton, Crowley, Curbelo, Dellamanna, Diaz, Dirar, Duncan, Dagostino, Delakas, Dillon, Donaghey, Daly, Dawson, Edery, Ellis, Elliott, Eastman, Easton, Famous, Fermin, Fialco, Finklestein, Farber, Falkin, Feinman, Friedman, Gardner, Gelpi, Glascock, Grandfield, Greenbaum Greenwood, Gruber, Garil, Goff, Gladwell, Greenup, Gannon, Ganshaw, Garcia, Gennis, Gerard, Gericke, Gilbert, Glassman, Glazer, Gomendio, Gonzalez, Greenstein, Guglielmo, Gurman, Haberkorn, Hoskins, Hussein, Hamm, Hardwick, Harrell, Hauptman, Hawkins, Henderson, Hayman, Hibara, Hehmann, Herbst, Hedges, Hogan, Hoffman, Horowitz, Hsu, Huber, Ikiz, Jaroschy, Johann, Jacobs, Jara, Johnson, Kassel, Keegan, Kuroda, Kavanau, Keller, Kevill, Kiew, Kimbrough, Kline, Kossoff, Kotzitzky, Kahn, Kiesler, Kosser, Korte, Leibowitz, Lin, Liu, Lowrance, Lundh, Laux, Leifer, Leung, Levine, Leiw, Lockwood, Logrono, Lohnes, Lowet, Laber, Leonardi, Marten, McLean, Michaels, Miranda, Moy, Marin, Muir, Murphy, Marodon, Matos, Mendoza, Muraki, Neck, Needham, Noboa, Null, O’Flynn, O’Neill, Orlowski, Perkins, Pieper, Pierre, Pons, Pruska, Paulino, Popper, Potter, Purpura, Palma, Perez, Portocarrero, Punwasi, Rader, Rankin, Ray, Reyes, Richardson, Ritter, Roos, Rose, Rosenfeld, Roth, Rutherford, Rustin, Ramos, Regan, Reisman, Renkert, Roberts, Rowan, Rene, Rosario, Rothbart, Saperstein, Schoenbrod, Schwed, Sears, Statosky, Sutphen, Sheehy, Silverton, Silverman, Silverstein, Sklar, Slotkin, Speros, Stollman, Sadowski, Schles, Shapiro, Sigdel, Snow, Spencer, Steinkol, Stewart, Stires, Stopnik, Stonehill, Tayss, Tilney, Temple, Torfield, Townsend, Trimpin, Turchin, Villa, Vasillov, Voda, Waring, Weber, Weinstein, Wang, Wegimont, Weed, Weishaus.

I have given this test to at least a dozen groups of people. One was a freshman World Civilizations class at City College in Manhattan. The students were all in their late teens or early twenties, many of them recent immigrants to American, of middle and lower income. The average score in that class was 20.96, meaning that the average person in the class knew 21 people with the same last names as the people on my list. I also gave the test to a group of health educators and academics at a conference in Princeton New Jersey. This group was mostly in their 40’s and 50’s, largely white, highly educated–many had PhD’s–and predominatly upper income. Their average score was 39. Then I gave the test to a relatively random sample of my friends and acquaintances, mostly journalists and professionals in their late 20’s and 30’s. The average score was 41. These results shouldn’t be all that surprising. College students don’t have as wide a circle of acquaintances as people in their 40’s. It makes sense that between the age of 20 and 40 the number of people you know should roughly double, and that upper-income professionals should know more people than lower-income immigrants. In every group there was also quite a range between the highest and the lowest-scorers. That makes sense too, I think. Real estate salesmen know more people than computer hackers. What was surprising, though, was how enormous that range was. In the college class, the low score was 2 and the high score was 95. In my random sample, the low score was 9 and the high score was 118. Even at the conference in Princeton, which was a highly homogenous group of people of similar age, education and income–who were all, with a few exceptions, in the same profession–the range was enormous. The lowest score was 16. The highest score was 108. All told, I have given the test to about 400 people. Of those, there were two dozen or so scores under 20, and eight over 90, and four more over 100. The other surprising thing is that I found high scorers in every social group I looked at. The scores of the students at City College were less, on average, than adult scores. But even in that group there are people whose social circle is four or five times the size of other people’s. Sprinkled among every walk of life, in other words, are a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. They are Connectors.”

My score was 22 – which I blame on the list being from New York (surely if we had the Pemberton-Smyths us Brits would have a better chance of appearing connected!). Seriously, it does make you look around your network and identify those crucial “Connected” individuals who “make things happen” for you.

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