Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen: The secret to your success

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malcom_gladwell.03Malcolm Gladwell has contributed many great books and ideas to the business stream over the years with Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers.

But  Tipping Point has changed the way that Charlie Gilkey, Michele Woodward and I do our work with job seekers and entrepreneurs.

In Chapter Two of Tipping Point, Gladwell describes three special types of people:

Connectors: “These people who link us up with the world, who bridge Omaha and Sharon, who introduce us to our social circles – these people on whom we rely on more heavily than we realize – are Connectors, people with a very special gift of bringing people together.”

Mavens: “A Maven is a person who has information on a lot of different products or prices or places. This person likes to initiate discussions with consumers and respond to requests … they like to be helpers in the marketplace. They distribute coupons. They take you shopping. They go shopping for you … This is the person who connects people to the marketplace and has the inside scoop on the marketplace.”

Salespeople: “Mavens are data banks. They provide the message. Connectors are social glue: they spread it. But there is also a select group of people – Salesmen – with the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing, and they are as critical to the tipping of word-of-mouth epidemics as the other two groups.”

When you identify your primary “Tipping Point archetype,” you know how to leverage your strengths, and most importantly, you identify the archetypes you lack in spreading your message.

How do you recognize these types in the real world?

Connectors are fantastic at expanding your network. They will say things like:

“Oh you should talk to …”
“Have you heard about…”
“Let me introduce you to ..”

They think in nodes, not individuals, and like nothing more than to help you.  They see people first, then money.

Salesmen will take the idea that you have been working on for years and help you package it, price it and sell it.  They say things like:

“But if you do that, you won’t make any money!”
“Here is how you should position it, and here is the upsell…”
“You have to have an offer. Traffic means nothing if it doesn’t lead to a sale.”
“What is your pricing structure?”
“What specific value will this have to your market? How much is that worth?”

Mavens will dig deeply into your product and give very specific, detailed and relevant information on how it can fit within the marketplace.

“I was researching that last month, and I noticed a slight discrepancy in ….”
“Your work fits right in the xxx part of yyy’s essay on the zzz topic.”
“You could add videos to this to bring the lessons alive! And you could expand on the content in Chapter 3, Section 2, by listing …”

How to use these ideas in the real world

Michele Woodward, in her executive coaching work, created the “Connector Strategy Tool” where she helps clients conducting a job search identify the Connectors in their life. One client reported that after having lunch with a Connector, by the time she got back to her office, he had sent eight messages of introduction to hiring managers.

Charlie and I used this model in our Lift Off Retreat, and it was exceptionally eye-opening for the participants, who realized: A) They should celebrate who they really are, and ignore advice to change into something they are not. B) By surrounding themselves with other archetypes, their business will grow to a whole other level.

Tipping Point archetypes in the wild

Jonathan Fields is a Connector .He starts each day on Twitter with the question “How can I help you?” Enough said. (He is a wickedly strong Salesman too)

Crystal Williams is a Maven.  She is given one  task, like researching an online shopping cart, and does it to a depth that would make a retired librarian blush.

Naomi Dunford is a Salesman. She has the ability to craft an email or blog post about a product that is so funny and compelling that you cannot help but reach for your wallet. Even if you are not sure you need it.

Daniel Pink is a Maven. With a healthy dose of Salesperson and good sprinkling of Connector. He knows how to find a great specific idea (Whole New Mind, Drive), research it deeply, and sell it to a broad market. If we could all be so well-balanced!

When you recognize your primary archetype, you can look for people who compliment you. I need salespeople around me, since I have been known to connect my entire network, and forget that I actually have a mortgage to pay and a child still in diapers.

So here is your task:

  1. Identify yourself. Are you a Connector, a Maven or a Salesman?
  2. Evaluate your current business model through this lens. Are you setting yourself up for success or failure? Connectors build bridges, Mavens dig deep and research, and Salesmen influence and sell. Is that what you are doing?
  3. Identify your missing archetype. Do you really need a Salesperson, Connector or Maven? Go find them.
  4. Share and trade your superpower with theirs, and watch your business explode. Profitably.
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42 Responses to “Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen: The secret to your success”

  1. […] how network participants influence one another. For example, many policymakers expected to see ‘connectors’ within networks, something we often see in real-life communities while the network scientists […]

  2. […] how network participants influence one another. For example, many policymakers expected to see ‘connectors’ within networks, something we often see in real-life communities while the network scientists […]

  3. […] episode also requires a big thank-you to my online friend Lori Saliata. Lori is a born connector and has put me in touch with plenty of smart online business owners as well as opening my eyes to […]

  4. […] Thanks to Pamela Slim post; Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen: The Secret to your success. […]

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  8. […] motivated by monetary compensation. People are motivated by spreading the word to others. Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point? Find your connectors, mavens, and salespeople and empower them to do what they love […]

  9. I have read so many posts about the blogger lovers however this paragraph is
    truly a fastidious article, keep it up.

  10. […] activate and reward the roles of connectors, mavens and salesmen in your social networks since they are the key elements to make viral distribution of your products […]

  11. […] other people’s work just because? According to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, being a “Connector” has its rewards as well; if you’re genuinely helpful to others i.e. connect people to resources they need, people […]

  12. […] might be wired differently, and have different strengths and interests. Maybe you are a maven and love building deep and elegant products. Maybe you are a salesman and get […]

  13. […] Lift Off Retreat and with clients in our individual coaching practices. She also wrote a post on maven, connectors, and salespeople back in 2010 and has nudged me to write this one since around that time, too. So, here we […]

  14. […] your wing span. I often quote Malcolm Gladwell and The Tipping Point when it comes to his theory of Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen. Connectors, if you remember, LOVE to connect people, and often have very large networks. I am a […]

  15. […] I hire people for a small nonprofit arts council.  Seth hires similar kinds of people for a large nonprofit social service agency.  Two different environments but almost identical hiring filters.  We both know what strengths, or what archetype we are so we can hire people with the strengths we lack.  Successful candidates need to project their particular superpowers so they can find the perfect batcave.  Read more about what Pam Slim says about this here. […]

  16. […] to the connector profile, one of my greatest joys is bringing amazing people […]

  17. […] I was doing that actually prevented me from doing the things that I was the best at. I’m a maven, in case you haven’t figured it out – I take information, ideas, and structures and […]

  18. […] may remember I wrote a post about Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen and how they relate to entrepreneurs. When you meet Connectors, (which I happen to be), they […]

  19. […] Malcolm Gladwell has contributed many great books and ideas to the business stream over the years with Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers.But  Tipping Point has changed the way that Charlie Gilkey, Michele Woodward and I do our work with job seekers and entrepreneurs.In Chapter Two of Tipping Point, Gladwell describes three special types of people:Connectors: […] Original post […]

  20. Kimmoy says:

    Seems like I’m primarily a maven. I’m re-branding The Curvy Coach (again – maybe this time I’ll get it right) and just this week I was saying men I really need to work on building my local network and characteristically went into research mode to find local events and publicists lol. I need a salesman too cause I have a few ideas on how to make it profitable but don’t want to do it alone.

    This post was timely for me so thanks for sharing. *Off to add Tipping Point to the reading cue*

  21. Denny Sugar says:

    “They should celebrate who they really are, and ignore advice to change into something they are not.”

    That’s precisely what people don’t do. Instead, we all try to be the thing we’re not and end up floundering about. Only when you embrace your gifts, can you use them.

  22. Pam, I am definitely a Connector! I thrive on getting people together, on a personal as well as business level. I could benefit from both a Maven and a Salesperson. I have a lot to think about!

  23. Leisa LaDell says:

    Wonderful post. Thanks for the clarity. I’m a Connector, for sure, with some Salesman tendencies. I definitely need a Maven. Will be interesting to look at my business throughout this lens.
    Cheers, Leisa

  24. Janet says:

    I’m excited to sit down, write about this, and come up with some new strategies for my business. Thanks for a great tool!

  25. I’m definitely a maven in need of Connectors and Salespeople.
    My business definitely reflects a Maven style as well — I’m good at what I do and really knowledgeable about my field (photography) and I’ve had tremendous feedback from clients. I’m a wiz with the Google analytics side and have managed to keep the numbers increasing every month for the last 5 months since the business launched, but I’m always hesitent to ask for the sale (even though I started in customer service/sales) and I NEED connections!

  26. Pam, this is a wonderful post since it’s truly amazing what happens when you start noticing people’s strengths in this way. I spoke to a client yesterday about how to think of some connectors who may help her on a current project. She sent a few emails before leaving the office last night and woke up this morning to several leads and new resources and even a potential job offer in her inbox. I know it was partly my idea but I was still surprised by the speed and accuracy of the connectors that work for us!

    I believe I’m definitely a connector – now who needs some connecting?

  27. Dede says:

    I am a combination of all 3. Between my day job and home based business, I really do it all!! Now, if I just got paid for the hours I put in:)

  28. Bridget says:

    I am a connector. I may be a super-connector.
    Wow, this makes a lot of sense. And it also makes sense that I need to find a salesperson. Hmm…. Lots to think about here, Pam.
    Thank you!

  29. We are only as strong as the people we are friends with. If we surround ourselves with powerful people they bring us along for their ride. The opposite is true too.

    I love one of your older posts about creating a Jedi council. I refer a lot of my clients to that piece. The best part is the name. People want to be a part of something special. If we can make helping others and having them help us a special process it becomes fun and creative. Who could say no to being a part of someone’s Jedi council?

  30. Chris Macklen says:

    Pam – that was so clear! So I see I’m a maven – I always wondered what that word meant (not used very much here in the UK)! Yes, I could make a librarian blush – and doing the research I get so excited that I get lost in it and hours pass by before I know it. But there’s a deep deep sense of achievement afterwards. And now my task is clearly to find myself a connector and a salesperson – I don’t have to feel guilty about it now that I can see my part in the triangle! Thanks for your insights.

  31. Greg says:

    I think just knowing what classification you fit in is good for not only you but for business. In business, just like in life, we tend to go through an identity crisis of what or who are business is and represents. Even narrowing down your target market can be painful and frustrating when you’re just starting out or formulating ideas. These 3 categories are very insightful pieces of information.

  32. Carl Klutzke says:

    Aren’t we missing the people that create the product or provide the service that’s being connected/researched/sold? Or do you have to be that in addition to at least one of the three other types in order to succeed?

  33. Erin says:

    My first reaction was similar to Lynn’s above – I am a Maven with elements of Connector. My background is in Marketing and I am great salesperson in writing. I can write a great press release, resume, product sheet, website – but I am a former shy person and not good at selling/closing in person. So I read this and thought “great, if this is true how can I ever start my business when at the beginning I have to be my own salesperson?” Or can I leverage my styles to learn the method of selling that will work for me?

  34. Anne Walsh says:

    Ah, yes, I am a connector. If customers want to see if they can find someone doing something…I generally get asked to help. Alas, I am not a good saleswoman. Pamela’s comments about connecting the world and forgetting that I have to pay the bills etc really resonated.. 🙂 Wonder if the personal development world attracts mostly connectors (as most of the comments to date) seem to be from that group… and yes, I would be curious to link up with any sales people…

  35. Maxim says:

    Very interesting perspective on Malcolm’s Tipping Point. Though, I would emphasize “offline” aspects of sales people, not only “online” one. Gladwell talks a lot of how good they are as communicators, how they build rapport, deliver the message verbally and non-verbally, etc.

  36. I am a Maven. I am worst at Connecting…I tend to believe (hope!) that the data will speak for itself, when in reality it’s often who you know vs. how great your product/service is.


  37. Lynn Clark says:

    I’m definitely a Maven with a bit of Connector and not much Salesperson. I’ve always said that the only way I would go into business for myself is if I could hire someone to sell me. The question is how to find that Salesperson when you’re just starting out and have little cashflow. Or how to become that Salesperson (ugh).

    Great piece.

    • If you want to become a salesperson, I highly suggest Dan Kennedy’s books. To succeed in business, you have to innately grasp that selling is not “taking away” money from anyone–realizing that if you’re selling something they want, they’re actually happier to have it than they would be with having the money itself. Second is believing that your product/service is worth far more than what you are charging. Once you grasp those two, and wear them with confidence, the sky is your limit.

      The good news is that this can all be learned. It certainly doesn’t come naturally to very many folks. It didn’t to me, but I learned it and became highly successful.


  38. Oh, I was about to say I wasn’t a connector, even though I feel like a connector, simply because I am terrible at remembering to introduce people. But Barbara’s got a point. I’m constantly connecting people in my mind, and connecting ideas, too. Even though my business is sales, my natural inclination is to connect unexpected ideas first. If I’m not excited about it, I don’t even want to sell it. So, connecting comes first for me. You’ve had me thinking about this all week, by the way!

  39. Barbara Saunders says:

    I’m a connector. One thing I think connectors aren’t recognized for doing is networking ideas as well as people. The two go hand in hand. Sometimes people think I’m an “encyclopedia”, but I’m not like a maven. I don’t necessarily like to research a thing deeply. I often find myself saying, “You want to what? I read this book about X; it sort of sounds like the same thing.” Not a connection to a person but to an idea.

  40. You are so right that we need to associate ourselves with different people. I think that the number one thing a person can do to succeed is to surround themselves with great people.

    Too often entrepreneurs believe that they have to learn how to do everything by themselves. To succeed as an entrepreneur, however, entrepreneurs need to leverage the skills of the people they have access to and to seek out new people with new skills.

    With respect to you questions above, I believe that I am a Connector with a lot of Maven mixed in. I am your typical people person who gains energy from the people around me. However, as an attorney, my analytical skills also put me in the Maven category.

    How does this affect my business? To be honest, I need more time to think about this to understand how this affects me.

    But, in the meantime, I would love to connect with you Connectors, Mavens and Salepeople reading this site. I can’t wait to learn about each of your superpowers. Feel free to connect with me on Twitter – @xtraincomedaily or through my site.

    To your success,