Visualize your networking with PeopleMaps

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A friend recently pointed me towards PeopleMaps, a new service that's currently in open beta. It's a tool for exploring your social network aimed at business users, focused on helping you make connections to avoid cold sales calls and get introductions. They use path-finding algorithms to navigate all the possible chains between you and your target, trying to find the shortest number of hops between, and displaying the possibilities as a simple tree.

I really like their emphasis on a painful problem for a very specific market, sales professionals. It's not easy to figure out how to get decent introductions for friends-of-friends through LinkedIn, so I can see this being a very popular service. It looks like a great tool for my "You guys should talk" crusade.

One thing I'm not sure about is where they're getting their relationship data from. They have a great set of tools to import your contacts from Gmail, LinkedIn and Outlook, but they promise to only use that information for your own private network. Companies like Spoke did something similar in the past, aggregating lots of individual contacts from their Outlook plugin to build a global graph, but PeopleMap's privacy policy appears to rule this out.

Anyway, I love what they're up to, seems very well thought-out and they've got an impressive team, I look forward to seeing more.

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