What I learned from Google+ Circles and Linkedin Maps

I just joined Google+ (I like being an early adopter of social media stuff). It prompted me to categorize my contacts into Circles (similar to Facebook friends lists or Linkedin contacts tags, but it seems like it has a lot more functionality compared to those two features).

It was a fun little project putting my contacts into groups, and it also prompted me to think about who I know. Normally, when working with job-seekers, I ask them to consider who they know as a way of priming the pump for a networking brainstorm. This Google+ Circles project was a reverse-engineering way of doing this. From this exercise, I found that I know people from:
* My current employer– including current and former co-workers, current and former students, and employers/recruiter contacts
* My past employers (as above)
* My book– including people I interviewed for the book, my publisher, people who interviewed me for the book (media, radio shows etc.)
* GovLoop– the online community where I’m a blogger
* Careers experts, other career book authors, and career services providers at other colleges and universities
* Family
* Personal friends
* Friends of my husband’s
* People from my musician life, both in Seattle (in the bluegrass band where I was a member) and in NYC (from musical organizations I have been part of)
* Co-workers and clients from Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group where I’m a freelance career coach
* Other parents and people we know from PEPS.

I also have enjoyed playing with one of the Linkedin Labs, the InMaps of my Linkedin contacts. What’s fun about this feature is that it creates a visually stunning presentation of my network. It looks like a two-winged butterfly, where one wing is my students and co-workers from Baruch College, and the other is students and co-workers from the Evans School. The two hardly overlap at all (one school’s in NYC and a business school; one’s in Seattle and a public affairs school). In the middle are a few contacts (a subgroup of open networkers and highly connected career experts and authors; a subgroup for NPAG; a subgroup for NYC music friends), but it’s fascinating to see a visual presentation of myself as a career hub for alumni and students of schools where I’ve worked. It shows how I’ve used Linkedin to benefit the careers of my students for the last several years–as an introduction hub to help alumni and students connect.

It’s fun to try these different tools out to map your network, and then think about how to extrapolate your network further using these tools.

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