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What’s In A Name?

At the turn of the year, LinkedIn released the results of an analysis of over 85 million profiles looking for the most commonly used words and phrases. I will spare you the full results (you may remember the post from the twitter love it got at the time), but suffice to say that if you've described yourself as an innovative, dynamic, entrepreneurial, results-orientated team player with extensive experience and a proven track record, you're likely to be in a lot of company.

The results are perhaps indicative of the limitations of profiles (and whilst we're on the subject, of CVs) in capturing the real attributes and capabilities of the people behind them. But they're also a revealing insight into how people would like others to perceive them, or at least into what they think is important for prospective employers/business partners (the most overused word in those profiles originated in the UK was 'Motivated').

So in common with other networks, alongside the re-application of the data that accumulates on social platforms (in LinkedIn's case its social news service, LinkedIn Skills, and visualisations of your network) an interesting side benefit is the ability to derive macro-level insights, most notably applicable to linguistic or social science fields.

Cue this fascinating FastCompany piece, based around some analysis LinkedIn have done on Top CEO names around the world (the top name for UK CEOs is Charles rather than Neil, sadly). The idea that what we are called might impact our destiny (so-called nominative determinism) is a rather fascinating one but that aside, the piece complements the data with comments from Frank Nuessel (a linguist and the editor of Names: A Journal of Onomastics ) who makes a great point. Whilst based solely on data from one network, analysis such as this nonetheless gives you an interesting snapshot of right now. But the truly compelling application of this data will come longitudinally, in what it can potentially reveal about how specific industries, professions, and groups of people (gender, nationality, ethnicity in the workplace for example) are changing over an extended period of time. And that is full of rather fascinating possibility.

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