There’s no doubt that Crowdsourcing (aka getting your customers to work for you) is big business. According to IHL Consulting Group self-checkout alone is projected to be worth $1.2 trillion by 2009. Customers helping themselves or each other works because most people are served quicker, more accurately and leave with a stronger relationship to the company or product then they arrived with. For some of us this is hard to believe. I much prefer being served. But I am being retrained. I pump my own gas, research and buy my own travel tickets, check myself out of Home Depot and seek purchasing advice from bloggers. The grease that makes these wheels turn is best described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “The Tipping Point”. Mavens, “one who accumulates knowledge” are wonderfully obsessed with details and love to help others. To a large degree building successful online communities relies on recruiting Mavens. But of course you can’t recruit Mavens – you can only entice them to participate. Fortunately they’re easy to spot. They participate and they don’t pull punches. We tell our clients that if a Maven has wondered into your community respond directly, openly and honestly. Without their participation in your social media plan, Crowdsourcing will become Crowdsouring.