Imagine you are Legolas, an Elf of the Woodland Realm, and you have just watched a close friend, Gandalf the Grey, fall into the cavernous depths. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately depending on your mindset, you manage to escape physically unscathed. Now, imagine that buddy of yours is a LinkedIn connection and that aforementioned mountainous black hole is your untapped social network. You have no idea what it contains or how deep it goes. All you know is that it has no clear beginning and no definitive end. You are, for the sake of this exercise, Legolas without the map. Your cool arrows will do you no good without a place to point and shoot. But don’t panic Orlando Bloom, there is hope. Your network need not be your personal Mordor. Legolas, get the LinkedIn map!
Though LinkedIn Maps has been a feature of the social network for several years, many users are still unaware that they have a map. Not only do all LinkedIners have one, it is a tremendous Jackson Pollack-esque visualization of your ever expanding natural market. If Legolas were on LinkedIn, I’d imagine he would have many arrow makers, dwarfs, and Cate Blanchett in his network. That would be my educated assumption. Yet, often times our best guess regarding the makeup of our network misses the mark. When this happens, it can be very exciting. If you’re having a “Huh?” reaction to that last sentence, that’s OK.
Let’s say you work in the financial industry and you are convinced that your natural market is legal. You have several clients at high-powered law firms and believe that the mid to large law practice is the heart of your network. There may be no better way to prove or disprove this than by checking your LinkedIn Map. Amid the colorful dots and squiggly lines that form, you may indeed be right – attorneys may be the crux of your client base. But what about the red blotch of doctors to the right? How about that green patch of Small Business Owners to the left? And what’s that yellow group of uncategorized connections in the corner? By leveraging the power of your LinkedIn Map, you can spot opportunities that may have passed you by, especially if your network is 500+ deep with connections.
Your LinkedIn Map may showcase a market that you, unwittingly, created. I’ll stick with the financial industry example. Financial Representatives looking to build their client base depend on referrals and introductions to other potential clients. If you are a Financial Representative or in an industry that is referral-driven, having a bunch of other Financial Representatives in your network isn’t going to help you achieve your client-building goals. In this instance, it would be wise to consider doing away with this purple (or whatever color it may be) blob weighing down the effectiveness of your network. For Legalos, this would be akin to having a robust Orc market.
Next time you log in to LinkedIn (I know, you already are), have a bit of fun and go on a LinkedIn Maps journey. It will take about 5 minutes for your connections to take visual shape. Will your LinkedIn Map help you claim one ring to rule them all? Doubtful. Will it empower you to understand, organize, and ultimately leverage your kingdom of markets? Get the map and find out.