Who to focus on when networking

The basics

For anyone to refer their contacts—possibly close business partners or friends—to your business, they will have to have a certain minimum level of awareness of you and your business.

At a personal level, they will have to

  • know you
  • like you
  • and trust you.

For that to happen, you’ll have had to spend some time with them, in one to ones or other interactions where they can get to know you.

Connectors, mavens and ‘salesmen’

In his book, The tipping point (well worth reading), Malcolm Gladwell identifies three types of person who you might meet at a networking event (and in every other aspect of life). Most people are none of these three—a few rare people are more than one


Connectors know a lot of people: they “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). Crucially, however, it is not enough that they know a lot people—they have to really like connecting the right ones together.


Mavens know a lot of stuff. They are “information specialists”, “people we rely upon to connect us with new information”. They accumulate knowledge and understanding and, again crucially, they like to share it with others and know how to.


I prefer the word ‘influencer’. Gladwell’s ‘salesmen’ are able to persuade others. They have a, probably, incompletely understood way of communicating that encourages others to believe them.

Connectors know a lot of people—but they have to really like connecting the right ones together.

The difference between a connector and maven is this.  If a maven recommends a restaurant to ten people they’ll all go, because the maven is known to be an expert on restaurants.  If a connector wants to get ten people to go to a restaurant he or she will have to tell a hundred people, because he/she isn’t known for knowing particularly about restaurants.  However, they do know a hundred people.

In any networking group, it is important to know who the connectors, mavens and influencers are, and to ensure they know about you and your business. These are the people to seek out first when setting up one to ones.

How to seek out the connectors in a group of people…

…none of whom you know.

1  Enter the room.

2  Go up to the first person you see.

3  Introduce yourself and ask if the person has read The tipping point.

4  If they say yes, remind them what connectors are (go to step 6).

5  If they say no, say you read about connectors and mavens on this site and and explain what they are, including the bit about recommending a restaurant.

6  Ask them who the connectors are in the room.

7  If they say, “no idea, I’m a stranger here myself”, go on to another person and start at step 3 (remember to introduce the first person to the connector when you have found him/her).

8  Otherwise they are bound to know and tell you because (a) they will have been to this event before and (b) at that time the connector(s) will have sought them out, ever eager to meet and get to know people in case they can introduce them to people they already know.

This is an edited extract from Network better, by Jeremy Marchant
© 2018 Jeremy Marchant Limited . image:  Free images

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