Do you know who your sneezers are and how to treat them?
In his book Ideavirus, Seth Godin discusses the concept of sneezers. Yes, sounds disgusting as we don’t normally want people sneezing around or—God forbid—on us. However, you do want these sneezers spreading their “virus” all over the place because that virus is about you and your work.
Godin says: “Sneezers are at the core of any ideavirus. Sneezers are the ones who when they tell ten or twenty or 100 people—people believe them.”
He goes on to describe two types of sneezers:
1. Promiscuous. “Can be motivated by money or other inducements.” And “Are rarely held in high esteem as opinion leaders, but if they’re promiscuous enough, they can be extremely effective.”
2. Powerful – a powerful sneezer, on the other hand, can’t be motivated by money or extras. If they accept either, their power to influence others decreases.
In Ideavirus, Godin also talks about how to manage your relationship with promiscuous sneezers (aka street teams to an author). He says one mistake many organizations make is beginning to view those sneezers as an expense. Rather than pulling back on what you offer those folks, he suggests you put a cap on recruiting new sneezers, while continuing to heap rewards on your existing sneezers.
Powerful sneezers are normally not under your control, but the promiscuous ones? You’d do well to use them fairly and effectively.