InMap mapping social capitalIn my last blog post, I talked about what social capital is. Today I’m going to look at some tools you can use to analyze and measure your networks.

When any type of group is created, be it a non-profit, a formal corporate hierarchy, a small business franchise, or social clubs, we need to take a step back and visualize the organization’s structure.  Do you like how the organization and its people are arranged?  Are there ways to make improvements?

These questions can be applied to personal networks.  Can you visualize your personal and professional connections to see if there are changes you can make?  Yes, you can!

Nothing will increase your awareness of your networks and the networks that are available to you more than creating a map of your networks.  Mapping out your networks creates a visualization of the social capital available to you and your business, and helps you identify action steps for improving your network.

Here are a few software programs that can take your social ties and show you how everyone you know online fits together:

Gephi is a software program that allows you to create your own network map from scratch, entering in names and associations.  In addition, there are several programs within Gephi that can collect social data from your Facebook profile and Facebook groups, mapping your connections there.  Gephi, unlike other applications, can perform a dynamic network map.  Networks are constantly evolving, and with some light coding, Gephi programs can continuously pull data from Twitter, Facebook or other sites, showing you how your network is changing.

NodeXL is a software program that is integrated with Microsoft Excel.  It can be used by those with limited knowledge of social graphs and analysis; however, it also provides advanced features for analysts.  NodeXL allows the user to plug data into a spreadsheet and also pulls data from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and other sites.  This is a great tool for visualizing online networks, with a small learning curve.

InMaps is a tool LinkedIn has created to map and visualize your LinkedIn network.  The great feature of this tool is that you can zoom in to different clusters and groups of the network.  Once you select an individual in your network, their LinkedIn profile and details open on the right side of the screen.  For users that rely heavy on LinkedIn networks, this is a great analytical tool.

Bennett Resnik measuring social capitalMapping your social network is a great idea.  You get a beautiful image that makes it easy to see not just the people you are connected to, but how they are connected to each other. It’s the perfect first step towards optimizing your network and defining actionable steps to improve the quality and quantity of your relationships.

In my next blog post, I talk about how to amplify the relationships in your social network.

Today’s blog post is courtesy of Bennett Resnik, a consultant on social capital and networks, and the creator of “The Hands We Shake” lecture series on how to build, grow, and sustain social capital. He is an expert in networking strategy and social capital retention. Bennett has helped start-ups, small businesses, non-profits and individuals develop a comprehensive strategy to build and cultivate their social capital.