LinkedIn has rolled out InMaps, an experiment out of LinkedInLabs that creates a visualization of your LinkedIn network connections and categorizes them into color types based on their relationships. Remember that this is your business or professional career network and not your personal network or combination profession and personal network that you might have on Facebook. Neither is it your communication or broadcast conduit that you would have over on Twitter. So it is what it is, your LinkedIn network.

Randy Giusto LinkedIn InMapThe algorithms behind InMaps filter through the various layers of your LinkedIn connections, identifying the various relationships between all those links. They then bring along the meta data and then group your links into multiple clusters. The tool is nice, and the display by contact on the right side and the meta data assembly is quite intuitive. For people with multiple, discreet networks, this shows as really defined and separated colored clusters. For those like me, this shows like a cosmic maelstrom of colors. It took some time for me to identify just what the colors represented, although the more predominant one was easy. It was a formal employer. LinkedIn identified eight clusters in my network- one large and several very small ones. The two very small ones I finally identified as Compaq and Palm, going way back into my career history.

Another interesting visual element is the size of the circle for each link. The bigger the circle, the more interconnections that person has to others in your network. You can consider these people as influencers, bridges, or hubs to others in the same colored network or to other networks represented by other colors. But is this the same as a Twitter Clout Score? I don’t think so, because size of the connection doesn’t necessarily equal quality of the connection.

LinkedIn provides several options to share InMaps with others including via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. But does sharing un-privatize your network? Apparently not. If you click on the thousands of tweets today that are including links to their InMaps you’ll come to a static graphic. Clicking on it zooms in and out depending on if it’s hosted on the special InMap landing page that LinkedIn is providing, or in a blog post, like this one.

It’s still too early to determine the usefulness of InMaps. What do you think of InMaps? D.J. Pahtel the Chief Scientist at LinkedIn says you can see areas underrepresented, and then go out and get more connections in that area. You can’t do that from within InMaps itself because it’s only showing your connections, not your connections’ connections. For that, you have to go back into the guts of LinkedIn. Will Facebook and Twitter soon follow?

– Randy Giusto