Women are natural networkers….. aren’t they?

Gill TineyI have to admit I sometimes feel sorry for the guys, they don’t have men only networking groups, they don’t get to chill out with their buddies in a highly charged testosterone environment where they don’t have to mind their p’s and q’s and women aren’t allowed. I assume there might be male only networking groups but if I were a fly on the wall I would hazard a guess it wouldn’t be much different to a ladies only group. Probably there would be an element of small talk, who saw the footie last night, some light refreshment, beer instead of wine but generally the emphasis would still be on business.

So why do ladies feel the need to have separate groups to network their businesses?

I don’t believe they do. They are simply taking every opportunity open to them to raise the profile of their business and some enterprising women have seen the potential to make a business out of the niche. Granted there are still some ladies who might be intimidated by a large group of suits, but there are probably the same number of men who are relieved to see a women in their midst. Any new group can be scary you simply have to find the easiest option for you.

As a director of both male dominated and ladies only groups I can assure you now that there is no difference between ladies only and general networking groups. Granted some are more effective than others but that isn’t down to the sex of the members, but to their attitude to networking. The business still gets exchanged and group politics still abound. What is different, however, is the way the two sexes go about networking.

Allow me to generalise for a moment. Ladies have an in built nurturing system and so naturally want to help their friends. They also define relationships as friendships much faster than men. For the guys they make a big distinction between friends and business colleagues. Men ultimately offer assistance, or referrals, not out of a nurturing instinct but in a WIIFM (what’s in it for me) philosophy. There is no right or wrong way, and this theory is not based on scientific fact but my personal observations. However I’m sure you too have come across surveys that have cost several million pounds only to tell us something that we already knew.

I digress, so women are natural networkers because of their nurturing instinct and their wish to help those in the group but then so are men who with their hunter mentality will see a deal and strike to pull it together.

What both men and women can do is learn from the other. Networking is not about simply showing up and seeing how it goes. It is part of your company’s marketing strategy. It is how you develop ongoing business through referrals. The most successful businesses are ones where they have a high percentage of clients who are their raving fans and generate more business for them. So men can learn how to nurture relationships and understand the ‘know, like, trust’ theory whilst ladies can learn how to seize opportunities and make connections work for them.

And as with most things in life there are always the exceptions to the rule. I have met some amazing forthright women who will walk away from a networking group having worked the room and spotted the opportunities like a lioness spots an antelope, as well as men who have built their business on their helpful and nurturing nature.

Vive La Difference everyone and enjoy the networking experience. If you want to find out how to make your networking more effective and start pulling in the results then give me a shout.

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