Connector maven

Connector maven DEFAULT

by Cindy Layton

Do you remember receiving a chain letter in the mail? They sometimes come now through email or Facebook. In the past, the lure of money was added to increase participation. Send a dollar to each person on this list and soon you’ll be a millionaire – just don’t break the chain!

Chain letters failed the test of “viralness.”

So what make something “viral”?” I’m tackling Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point to learn what factors create and amplify trends, and, more importantly, how they relate to marketing books.

For fiction writers, the marketability of the book always seems to be the last consideration, the first being how am I ever going to finish writing this beast? The second being why did I ever tell anyone I was writing a book?

If I could give a marketing lesson in six-hundred words or less I would be speaking for Malcolm Gladwell, not about him. Regardless, my thoughts so far, are thus:

Gladwell wrote his book in 2000, with one premise being that trends are started and supported by three types of people - Mavens, (early adopters and identifiers who become a source of information), Connectors, (who bring together thought leaders and influencers to spread ideas among disparate groups) and Salespeople (who persuade others to adopt ideas or products). This is before YouTube, Instagram or Facebook. Has technology made his findings obsolete?

The idea that viralness (my word) is influenced by these three types of people, seems to work in concert with technology. Technology is a device we use to spread messages. Those mediums used to be a newspaper, or a landline, or a TV. What’s different now is primarily the immediacy of the information.

Beyond that, the Mavens, Connectors, and Salespeople are still in play. We just find them in different ways, using different tools. The principals of word-of-mouth still apply whether using face to face interaction or social media.

In fact, Gladwell writes that the rise of social media and the increased complexity of our world makes these three types of people more important than ever.

What in the world does this have to do with writing? Identifying the Mavens, the Connectors and the Salespeople, according to Gladwell, is instrumental to marketing success. In traditional publishing, the agent may be the Maven, the early adopter who identifies your book as new and exciting and provides this information to an editor. The editor may be the Connector who brings together the thought leaders, within the agency and without, to hone the book, to bring together the agency resources, and match your book with the world of writing and authors they know and promote. The marketing department is, of course, the Salesperson in the equation, persuading the groups they’ve targeted to buy your book.

In independent publishing, the author must seek out these people or groups to promote the ideas and the viability of the book. Sometimes the author must be the Maven, the Connector and the Salesperson.

Gladwell writes about the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, describing the process of how that book would become a bestseller in 1998, selling over 2.5 million copies.

He says that Wells wrote an appealing and beautifully written story about mother-daughter relationships – she created a great product. On its own, that may not have been enough to top the charts. The strength of word of mouth (old school viralness) began to worm through the various book clubs that were popular in California. These (maven) book clubs, attended by mothers and daughters who connected with the book’s characters, boosted sales, often buying several copies to give to other daughters, mothers, and book club members. And, because the groups themselves were influential, their recommendation influenced other book groups comprised of the same. Readers are notoriously prone to the recommendations of other readers in selecting their next book. It’s an industry built on word of mouth, reviews, and other “trust-based” promotion. The perfect convergence of a product matched to the ideal small target group, achieving massive results.

Ah, should we all experience such a match for our own writings.

Need more? Here are some links to help you find the Mavens, Connectors, and Salespeople in your universe:

Jane Freidman is ever at the top of the list with “How to Find and Reach Influencers to Help Promote Your Book.” 

For YA authors, from the YA Bookshelf, a ranked list of the top 50 influencers in YA here.

And from Forbes, an article on Bookstagrammers, the intersection of Instagram and book reviewers.



HOW DO WE GROW the presence and influence of our organisations?

This is an all-too-often-ignored question among NGOs and voluntary community organisations. Yet, it is perhaps one of the key questions about their effectiveness and their future. It deserves far more attention than it receives. It is one of those questions that should be asked again and again.

There is something in the dynamics of organisations, particular those community-based and relying on volunteers, that leads them to follow the well-trod path of conventional organising. Seldom do they adopt newer, more innovative organisational structure. Seldom do they define the types people they need to do their job well, and seldom do they reorganise their structure around them.

Over a decade ago, in his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell described three types of people who make change happen:

  • mavens, who are knowledgable about things
  • salespeople, who convince others by ‘selling’ an idea
  • connectors, who with their many links distribute and collect information.

When they recognise the value of these three roles, organisations have the opportunity to structure their teams around them.

Why are these types important in permaculture?

The roles are important to moving permaculture towards greater acceptance by the public and by institutions because, as it is distributed widely across countries and continents, face-to-face connections cannot achieve the scale and frequency of contact necessary to creating a sense of commonality that generates a sense of belonging to a community of practice or a social movement.

Permaculture is structured as a distributed network both nationally and globally. Nobody built it like this. It evolved that way because of its internal dynamics and because of the availability of communications channels linking groups at the national and global scales. This permaculture network consists of many nodes and clusters:

  • the smaller and less-well-connected nodes of individuals and small, community-based groups
  • the larger, well-connected nodes with their own numerous connections that form hubs or clusters of connected nodes.

Gladwell’s mavens, connectors and salespeople offer a way for us to understand our role and those of others within the permaculture network. The three roles are critical to taking permaculture to people who have not encountered it before and to keeping informed those already familiar with the design system.

The three roles

If we understand the roles and what they do, we can think about how to structure or restructure our permaculture organisations to enable them to operate effectively. In understanding the roles we might also see which of them we are, and that can be more than one.

Let’s look at how Gladwell’s roles apply in permaculture.

The maven

The maven is someone who is knowledgable about something and is willing to share that knowledge. They might do this through offering advice, mentoring people, running workshops and courses or setting up a blog.

The characteristics of mavens includes a preference for distributing knowledge rather than hoarding it and the ability to communicate that knowledge clearly.

The salesperson

The role of the salesperson is to go out and sell an idea, to convince people of its utility and to encourage them to participate in it.

Salespeople need to be good communicators and clear thinkers so as to find and take advantage of opportunities to sell the idea. They know about the things that compete for peoples’ time and funds so as to more competitively position the idea that are promoting.

The connector

The connector is an information conduit, networker, communicator. The connector is the link between people in a network and between networks.

Where people might ask the maven about how to do something, they ask the connector where to find the maven and which maven would best answer their question.

The connector is likely to be well known, an educator or blogger perhaps, a frequent poster of information on websites and social media or a speaker at events. They will be a person who connects with different networks and the people in them. Some people are cast into the connector role unintentionally, while others adopt the role because of their skills.

The connector is important to finding know-how, knowledge and to linking with ideas, to finding the mavens who could offer assistance to a person or group and for introducing new knowledge and information to a group or organisation. In network theory terms, connectors do this by acting as the ‘weak links’ between networks. That is not to say the work they do is of little value or their connections insubstantial. Describing them as ‘weak social ties’, the Wikipedia page on interpersonal ties describes them and their role this way:

“Weak social ties are responsible for the majority of the embeddedness and structure of social networks in society as well as the transmission of information through these networks.

“Specifically, more novel information flows to individuals through weak rather than strong ties. Because our close friends tend to move in the same circles that we do, the information they receive overlaps considerably with what we already know. Acquaintances, by contrast, know people that we do not, and thus receive more novel information”.

Wikipedia goes on to say about the value of weak links: “…individuals with few bridging weak ties will be deprived of information from distant parts of the social system and will be confined to the provincial news and views of their close friends.”

New ideas flow from network to network through weak links. In contrast, the relationships within organisations usually consist of strong links because people are more likely to know each other. Often, members of an organisation or social group display homophily, the tendency to associate with people who hold similar beliefs, attitudes and practice similar lifestyles.

When this goes bad it becomes a type of groupthink, the sharing of attitudes and beliefs within the group which can lead to the ‘echo chamber effect’ in which those beliefs and attitudes are bounced from person to person within the group, setting up reinforcing or positive feedback loops that amplify the beliefs and attitudes which quickly become the group norm. This creates resistance to new, especially new and challenging ideas flowing into the group via the weak links and, as a result, reduces the groups fitness for purpose.

Permaculture’s mavens

Who are the mavens in the permaculture design milieu? Let’s limit this to Australia.

The late-Bill Mollison was clearly a maven. Co-originator of the permaculture design system, his life experience made him incredibly knowledgable across a diversity of fields and he willingly shared that knowledge through courses, books, articles in Permaculture International Journal and at public events.Bill’s articles are currently being serialised on the Permaculture Australia website.

David Holmgren, the other co-originator, is currently the best-known maven in Australian permaculture circles. His modes of conveying knowledge parallel those of Bill Mollison. Likewise, Geoff Lawton.

There are other mavens with the credibility to exert a national influence:

  • Robyn Francis of Permaculture College Australia
  • Milkwood Permaculture’s Nick Ritar and Kirsten Bradley
  • Hannah Moloney of Good Life Permaculture in Hobart
  • Ross Mars, the permaculture educator, researcher an author in Perth, Western Australia
  • Morag Gamble, publisher of Our Permaculture Life
  • Rosemary Morrow, with her work with refugees in the Middle East and teaching permaculture in the Blue Mountains of NSW
  • Lis Bastian, co-founder of the Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute who publishes The Big Fix
  • Robina McCurdy from Earthcare Education on Aotearoa-New Zealand, who offers courses and workshops in Australia
  • Dan Palmer with his Making Permaculture Stronger blog
  • Robin Clayfield from Crystal Waters Ecovillage in south-east Queensland with her Dynamic Groups courses in social permaculture.

Those are mavens operating at the national scale. Others are better known at the regional scale:

  • lan Lillington from Castlemaine in central Victoria
  • Guy Stewart in northern NSW, working in renewable energy with Rainbow Power Company
  • Pete the Permie from Telopea Mountain Permaculture Farm in the Melbourne region
  • Cecilia Macauley, who applies permaculture principles to personal and domestic life and decluttering
  • Richard Telford in Victoria, with the Permaculture Principles website and store
  • Bruce Zell in far North Queensland
  • Nevin Sweeney in Western Sydney
  • Penny Pyett from the Permaculture Sydney Institute
  • Fiona Campbell in the Sydney region, a local government sustainability educator, project developer and community organisation online systems support.

These people offer educational services, site tours and other services and are asked for advice. There are many more.

Permaculture’s salespeople

Salespeople go out and sell the notion that permaculture is a good idea that brings personal and social benefit. They have the evidence to support this.

As in all three roles, those of salespeople and mavens overlap, especially among permaculture educators. How people see themselves, as teachers or public figures promoting permaculture, determines the role they most closely identify with.

The host of ABC television’s Gardening Australia program, Costa Georgiardis, is the best-positioned permaculture salesperson at the moment. His television role gives him a platform from which to promote permaculture ideas. David Holmgren assumes this role when speaking at public events. Nick Ritar fills the role through teaching Milkwood Permaculture’s courses.

Anyone who presents on permaculture to an audience fits Malcolm Gladwell’s role of salesperson.

Permaculture’s connectors

Connectors are links. They connect people to people, maven to seeker, salesperson to audience, network to network. The communications channels they set up are the arteries along which flow permaculture’s ideas and know-how. Communications animates networks.

Connectors will probably have websites. They may be bloggers or frequent social media posters because those are the two prime gateways through which flows permaculture’s information. That makes them natural habitats for connectors. Those are the way most people discover and learn about permaculture.

Who are permaculture’s Australian connectors? There’s Costa Georgiardis, whose connector role overlaps his salesperson role. Likewise, Robyn Rosenfeld through the pages of PIP permaculture magazine she publishes. And there is my own role in this too, with this blog and

Publishers of local newsletters and blogs, prominent local permaculture people and event organisers, like Lance Lieber from Transition Bondi, are also connectors in permaculture. Weak links like Annette Loudon from Community Exchange Systems Australia, who assists people set up Local Exchange and Trading Systems (LETS), and who leads a session in the permaculture introductory course at the Randwick Sustainability Hub, is another.

Roles complement and overlap

Apply Gladwell’s maven/salesperson/connector model to your own role in permaculture and you soon realise that you fill more than one role.

Costa, for instance, is both salesperson and connector. So is Fiona Campbell who, in her local government role as sustainability educator, offers permaculture and related courses, such as community leadership where these roles are discussed, and organises events where individuals and local organisations, such as Transition and permaculture groups, are brought together to network.

The roles overlap because they are context or situation-dependent. My role is usually that of connector, however when presenting recently as a public event organised by Bendigo Bank my role was that of permaculture salesperson.

The roles as organisational structure

When permaculture and other organisations recognise the importance of these roles, they are better placed to make the changes that would enable them to do their work more efficiently and effectively.

The roles can be the core around which an organisation structures. They can also be the core around which teams form to improve education, promotion and communication, three things that form the mission of permaculture and other groups and civil society organisations.

In restructuring around the roles, a permaculture organisation might structure or restructure as three units carrying out the work of Gladwell’s three roles:

  • an educational team consisting of mavens who may workshops, courses and online educational material
  • a promotional team made up of salespeople who might form a speakers’ bureau to be available to speak at events
  • a communications team of connectors to set up and manage a website, social media, print, newsletters and other communications channels and who format the online educational material of the education team and the promotional material of the salespeoples‘ promotions team to comply with online readability and usability standards.

It then becomes the work of management team and boards of director to ensure these teams have all they need to do their work. While management and boards still have the important role of organisational oversight, coordination and legals, they role is to support the work of teams organised around the three roles.

For those of us for whom our work in permaculture is a main thing in life, it is worth gaining skills in all three roles while we continue to specialise in one. Doing that, we can enact David Holmgren’s comment about our being “a jack of all trades and master of one”.

More on applied social permaculture:

EnSpiral’s path to decentralised organisations: a workshop

Communicating for Change

Creating Change: Facilitation with confidence

The legals: Our duty of care to visitors to permaculture sites

ORID — strategic questioning that gets you to a decision

Participatory Learning and Action — and how to use it—-and-how-to-use-it/

Loomio — better decision making with technology

It’s all about — changeology







Malcolm GladwellorganisationspermacultureThe Tipping point

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The Tipping Point

2000 book by Malcolm Gladwell

For other uses, see The Tipping Point (disambiguation).

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is the debut book by Malcolm Gladwell, first published by Little, Brown in 2000. Gladwell defines a tipping point as "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point." The book seeks to explain and describe the "mysterious" sociological changes that mark everyday life. As Gladwell states: "Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do." The examples of such changes in his book include the rise in popularity and sales of Hush Puppies shoes in the mid-1990s and the steep drop in New York City's crime rate after 1990.

The three rules[edit]

Gladwell describes the "three rules of epidemics" (or the three "agents of change") in the tipping points of epidemics.

The Law of the Few[edit]

"The Law of the Few" is, as Gladwell states: "The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts." According to Gladwell, economists call this the "80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the 'work' will be done by 20 percent of the participants" (see Pareto Principle). These people are described in the following ways:

  • Connectors are the people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. A connector is essentially the social equivalent of a computer network hub. They usually know people across an array of social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles. They are people who "link us up with the world...people with a special gift for bringing the world together." They are "a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [... for] making friends and acquaintances." Gladwell characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people. To illustrate, he cites the following examples: the midnight ride of Paul Revere, Milgram's experiments in the small world problem, the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" trivia game, Dallas businessman Roger Horchow, and ChicagoanLois Weisberg, a person who understands the concept of the weak tie. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to the fact that "their ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy."
  • Mavens are "information specialists", or "people we rely upon to connect us with new information." They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others. Gladwell cites Mark Alpert as a prototypical Maven who is "almost pathologically helpful", further adding, "he can't help himself." In this vein, Alpert himself concedes, "A Maven is someone who wants to solve other people's problems, generally by solving his own." According to Gladwell, Mavens start "word-of-mouth epidemics" due to their knowledge, social skills, and ability to communicate. As Gladwell states: "Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they know."

A similar theory to Gladwell's "Law of the Few" appears in Kurt Vonnegut's Bluebeard (1987). In Bluebeard chapter 24, Paul Slazinger is working his first volume of non-fiction titled "The Only Way to Have a Successful Revolution in Any Field of Human Activity." Specifically, Vonnegut's 1987 character describes: “The team must consist of three sorts of specialists, he says. Otherwise the revolution, whether in politics or the arts or the sciences or whatever, is sure to fail. The rarest of these specialists, he says, is an authentic genius - a person capable of having seemingly good ideas not in general circulation. "A genius working alone," he says, "is invariably ignored as a lunatic." The second sort of specialist is a lot easier to find; a highly intelligent citizen in good standing in his or her community, who understands and admires the fresh ideas of the genius, and who testifies that the genius is far from mad. "A person like this working alone," says Slazinger, "can only yearn loud for changes, but fail to say what their shaped should be." The third sort of specialist is a person who can explain everything, no matter how complicated, to the satisfaction of most people, no matter how stupid or pigheaded they may be. "He will say almost anything in order to be interesting and exciting," says Slazinger. "Working alone, depending solely on his own shallow ideas, he would be regarded as being as full of shit as a Christmas turkey.” The Tipping Point does not make any reference to or acknowledgement of Vonnegut's Bluebeard.

The Stickiness Factor[edit]

The Stickiness Factor refers to the specific content of a message that renders its impact memorable. Popular children's television programs such as Sesame Street and Blue's Clues pioneered the properties of the stickiness factor, thus enhancing effective retention of educational content as well as entertainment value.

The Power of Context[edit]

Human behavior is sensitive to and strongly influenced by its environment. Gladwell explains: "Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur." For example, "zero tolerance" efforts to combat minor crimes such as fare-beating and vandalism of the New York subway led to a decline in more violent crimes citywide. Gladwell describes the bystander effect, and explains how Dunbar's number plays into the tipping point, using Rebecca Wells' novel Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, evangelistJohn Wesley, and the high-tech firm W. L. Gore and Associates. Dunbar's number is the maximum number of individuals in a society or group that someone can have real social relationships with, which Gladwell dubs the "rule of 150."

Other key concepts[edit]

Gladwell also includes two chapters of case studies, situations in which tipping point concepts were used in specific situations. These situations include the athletic shoe company Airwalk, the diffusion model, how rumors are spread, decreasing the spread of syphilis in Baltimore, teen suicide in Micronesia, and teen smoking in the United States.



Gladwell received an estimated US$1–1.5 million advance for The Tipping Point, which sold 1.7 million copies by 2006.[13] In the wake of the book's success, Gladwell was able to earn as much as $40,000 per lecture.[14] Sales increased again in 2006 after the release of Gladwell's next book, Blink.[15]The Guardian ranked The Tipping Point #94 in its list of 100 Best Books of the 21st Century.[16]


Some of Gladwell's analysis as to why the phenomenon of the "tipping point" occurs (particularly in relation to his idea of the "law of the few") and its unpredictable elements is based on the 1967 small-world experiment by social psychologist Stanley Milgram.[17] Milgram distributed letters to 160 students in Nebraska, with instructions that they be sent to a stockbroker in Boston (not personally known to them) by passing the letters to anyone else that they believed to be socially closer to the target. The study found that it took an average of six links to deliver each letter. Of particular interest to Gladwell was the finding that just three friends of the stockbroker provided the final link for half of the letters that arrived successfully.[18] This gave rise to Gladwell's theory that certain types of people are key to the dissemination of information.

In 2003, Duncan Watts, a network theory physicist at Columbia University, repeated the Milgram study by using a web site to recruit 61,000 people to send messages to 18 targets worldwide.[19] He successfully reproduced Milgram's results (the average length of the chain was approximately six links). However, when he examined the pathways taken, he found that "hubs" (highly connected people) were not crucial. Only 5% of the e-mail messages had passed through one of the hubs. This casts doubt on Gladwell's assertion that specific types of people are responsible for bringing about large levels of change.

Watts pointed out that if it were as simple as finding the individuals that can disseminate information prior to a marketing campaign, advertising agencies would presumably have a far higher success rate than they do. He also stated that Gladwell's theory does not square with much of his research into human social dynamics performed in the last ten years.[20]

Economist Steven Levitt and Gladwell have a running dispute about whether the fall in New York City's crime rate can be attributed to the actions of the police department and "Fixing Broken Windows" (as claimed in The Tipping Point). In Freakonomics, Levitt attributes the decrease in crime to two primary factors: 1) a drastic increase in the number of police officers trained and deployed on the streets and hiring Raymond W. Kelly as police commissioner (thanks to the efforts of former mayor David Dinkins) and 2) a decrease in the number of unwanted children made possible by Roe v. Wade, causing crime to drop nationally in all major cities—"[e]ven in Los Angeles, a city notorious for bad policing".[21] And although psychologist Steven Pinker argues the second factor relies on tenuous links,[22][23] recent evidence seems to uphold the likelihood of a significant causal link.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^McNett, Gavin (March 17, 2000). "Idea epidemics". Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  2. ^Potter, Andrew (June 12, 2009). "A Backwards Glance at Gladwell". MacLean's. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  3. ^Donadio, Rachel (February 5, 2006). "The Gladwell Effect". New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  4. ^"100 Best Books of the 21st Century". The Guardian. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  5. ^"The Tipping Point (review)". Archived from the original on January 21, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  6. ^Travers, Jeffrey; Milgram, Stanley (December 1969). "An Experimental Study of the Small World Problem". Sociometry. 32 (4): 425–443. doi:10.2307/2786545. JSTOR 2786545.
  7. ^Chang, Kenneth (August 12, 2003). "With e-mail, it's not easy to navigate 6 degrees of separation". New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2008.
  8. ^Thompson, Clive (February 2008). "Is the tipping point toast?". Fast Company. Retrieved August 6, 2008.
  9. ^Gladwell, Malcolm (April 30, 2006). "Steven Levitt". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on December 27, 2008. Retrieved December 29, 2008.
  10. ^Pinker, Steven (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. New York: Viking. ISBN .
  11. ^"Fooled again! Pinker puts a nail in the coffin of the freakonomics crime theory?". Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  12. ^Stephen Dubner (July 10, 2019). "Freakonomics Radio 384: Abortion and Crime, Revisited" (Podcast). Stitcher. Retrieved July 17, 2019.

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]

Основы использования Maven
Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen: Key Players in Marketing

Who are connectors, mavens, and salesmen? Where do these distinctions come from, and how are these three types of people crucial to the spread of ideas and important for business?

Connectors are sociable, gregarious, and naturally skilled at making friends and acquaintances. Mavens are endlessly curious and adept at gathering and retaining information on a wide variety of topics. Salesmen are the people who pitch the idea or message behind an epidemic and persuade people to jump on board. The terms comes from Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.

We’ll cover the role of connectors, mavens, and salesmen in business and why all three are crucial to the spread of ideas, services, and products.

Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen

How do you spark a trend that spreads like wildfire, or turn a product into the latest must-have item? You create a social epidemic. The Tipping Point explains how social epidemics — spreading ideas, messages, behaviors, and products — function like viruses, growing gradually until they reach a critical mass (the tipping point) and explode. 

Three factors can be adjusted to tip an idea to a social epidemic: the messenger, the message itself, or the context of the message.

The Law of the Few

When you’re trying to spread a message, idea, or product to epidemic proportions, you need people to help preach your message and spread the word to the masses. The Law of the Few proposes that there are certain, special types of people who are much more effective at broadcasting your idea and getting people to listen and follow suit. These special people are exceptional either in their social connections, knowledge, or persuasiveness and fall into three personality types: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen.

Connectors: Social Butterflies

Who are connectors, mavens, and salesmen? Connectors seem to know everyone. You can find Connectors in every walk of life; they are sociable, gregarious, and are naturally skilled at making — and keeping in contact with — friends and acquaintances.

Connectors tend to be connected to many communities — whether through interests and hobbies, jobs that cause them to work with people in other fields, or other experiences. Their strength is in occupying many different worlds, and bringing them together. 

However, Connectors are not close with all their connections. In fact, Connectors’ power is in having lots of acquaintances, or “weak ties.” Your acquaintances typically have different social circles and communities — exposing them to different people and information — than you, whereas your friends’ knowledge and social ties tend to largely overlap with your own. Thus, your friends can help spread a message in the same communities you occupy, but weak ties can help spread that message beyond your reach because they belong to different worlds than you do. 

For this reason, weak ties are more valuable than close friends in creating a wider reach for spreading epidemics, and Connectors are the hubs at the center of all those worlds. 

Mavens: Data Banks

Let’s look at the second type of influencer among connectors, mavens, and salesmen. While Connectors are people specialists who know many people and can spread information widely, Mavens, on the other hand, are information specialists; they are endlessly curious and adept at gathering and retaining information on a wide variety of (sometimes obscure) topics. 

A Maven’s influence is in the power of her recommendation. People know that Mavens are knowledgeable and trustworthy sources of information, so a Maven’s word carries a lot of weight. If a Maven suggests you check out a budding epidemic, you’re inclined to listen. 

Mavens also love to share their knowledge with other people, and are socially motivated to help people with the information they’ve gathered: A Maven is the kind of person who not only clips coupons and knows when a store is having a sale, but also shares coupons with her friends. 

Mavens’ genuine helpfulness inspires more trust and credibility — people know Mavens have no agenda or ulterior motive — so when they give recommendations people tend to take them more seriously. In a social epidemic, they serve as data banks — they carry the message, with authoritativeness. 

Salesmen: Persuaders

The third person in the list of connectors, mavens, and salesmen often gets the credit. Salesmen are the people who pitch the idea or message behind an epidemic and persuade people to jump on board. They do not merely store and share information; Salesmen want to convince you to follow their advice. 

Salesmen have the right words plus an inherent energy, enthusiasm, charm, and likability that makes people want to listen to them. Plus, Salesmen instinctively know how to use nonverbal cues to reinforce their power of persuasion. 

Nonverbal communication — including facial expressions, tone of voice, eye contact, and body language — have a powerful impact on us, even when they are so subtle that we don’t notice them. People naturally fall into a conversational rhythm when they talk, subconsciously matching speech cadence, tone, and volume. The better your conversational harmony with someone, the more connected you feel to them. 

Salesmen are masters at not only matching conversational rhythms, but drawing people into their own rhythms and setting the tone for the interaction. This natural ability makes Salesmen particularly skillful at influencing people’s emotions and thus persuading them to join a movement.

Employing the Law of the Few and Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen

As Gladwell illustrates with his varied examples of connectors, mavens, and salesmen, social epidemics take many forms — from fashion crazes to rumors to crime waves — and each calls for a unique combination and application of the three principles he discusses. Not every principle will be applicable to a given epidemic, and similarly, not every messenger will be effective. The key is to understand how these strategies can be employed so that you can determine what’s most effective in your situation. 

(Shortform note: Overall, the book doesn’t offer much — if any — general tips for applying of these strategies, presumably because each situation is so unique. Instead, Gladwell focuses on driving home understanding of the principles based on research, his explanations, and case studies.)

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