I have always been amazed by LinkedIn stats about my network. Why?
Because I have lived by now for the past 12 years in Italy, after coming back from California. Granted, I always worked in fairly international environments, so about 50% of my direct (first-degree) contacts are in Italy, and the other half is abroad.
But when I look at the total people I could theoretically reach (up to the third degree), it’s a completely different picture. The top five locations (see upper right corner in the screen shot) are all in the US and UK. Paris has also been part of the top five in the past. Italy, not really.
What does this mean? It means that my non-Italian contacts have many more contacts, and their contacts have more contacts in turn, then my Italian contacts. Which does not, I think, reflect what happens in real life: Italians are strong and talented networkers, and much if not most business gets done through networking. Yet, it seems to be less of a priority for my Italian contacts to track their contacts through a platform like LinkedIn. Maybe it’s because we don’t move around so much: if we hardly ever lose track of each other, then “getting back in touch” is less important. Other explanations are welcome.
I am also often amused by the other two network profile boxes – add a colleague in Netherlands, and the Netherlands becomes the fastest growing location; link up with a friend in Finland, and Finland shoots up the ranking. Hey, and should I ever go to Daytona Beach, I can probably go out for drinks with someone. But what’s not amusing is that New York, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, and London are in the fastest growing most of the time – I feel like a character caught in the wrong spot in a Richard Florida book. No Italian location (not even the Milan area, where most of my Italian contacts are) ever gets to the fastest growing. Maybe it’s good that I don’t often link with one of those “power networkers” who suddenly double my Milanese network in a single burst – networks should be built slowly and patiently. But I can’t help thinking that the humble microcosm of my LinkedIn contacts is a mere reflection of how the Web is not growing in Italy.