There is an interesting tool for Twitter that visualizes connections between twitter users. It is called Mention Map and builds a visual view of where an account is mentioned in the twitter universe. There is another tool that grades how influential you are in the twitter universe and it is called coincidentally Twitter Grader. On Twitter Grader I got a grade of 94 and who knows what that means. In both cases the tools help you visualize your connections and influence to those around you.
While Twitter and these tools are just a proxy for influence and connections, it is important for us in enterprises to try to better understand influence and connections. This might include those people in the organization who are the ‘goto’ people on project after project and those people who seem to keep teams focused and calm in the midst of the storm. How about that person at work who is a good counselor and is well respected by many? Relationships between companies/organizations are also important as those people who can connect with your customers and suppliers in a closer fashion are very valuable to the company.
The Connectors in Gladwell’s book Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference talk about this a lot and make some great points. There are also great points in much of the Collaboration dialog on the internet and in books. It is also talked about in the books like Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age and Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means both of which a read several years ago. I especially liked the Linked book.
I think we are moving in the direction of much better understanding of this in the workplace in the coming years and there is likely to be some interesting things developed by forward thinking companies.