- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 20 June 2012 06:35, Updated 03 July 2012 06:19
Great networking ... “Women socialise ... men always called it gossiping.”
It’s official – women are better at networking than men.
That’s the conclusion of professional networker Ivan Misner after he surveyed 12,000 entrepreneurs to find out what makes them tick when it comes to making business connections. He found marked differences between the sexes.
“We found women are more likely to be relational in their networking and men are more likely to be transactional,” Misner says.
“Men have a tendency to say ‘Hi, my name is Joe, let’s do business’ and get right to the point … women have a tendency to get caught up in building the relationship and find it difficult to say ‘Hey, we should do business’.”
But when it comes to results, women come out on top. Misner found that women surveyed generated an average of 49 per cent of their business through networking and referrals, compared with 44 per cent among men.
As it turns out, an ability to chew the fat might actually be part of what it takes to be a great networker. “Women look for common ground and find places that they can support and collaborate . . . women socialise, they connect,” Misner says. “Men always called it gossiping.”
Many professionals might ask “What’s wrong with cutting to the chase?” but when it comes to building strong, productive relationships, time and building common ground are essential ingredients.
“You’re doing the wrong thing if you’re turning up to a networking event trying to sell something,” he says.
Networking isn’t about selling your company from the get-go. It’s about building a sense of credibility about yourself and then cultivating a relationship.
And building credibility requires more than an exchange of business cards and adding one another as connections on LinkedIn. “Establishing credibility takes time, experience and education. They need to hear about what you do, see what you do.”
Misner suggests inviting a new connection around to your workplace to see what it is your company does. He is adamant that face-to-face interaction makes all the difference.
And there’s nothing like generosity to cement a relationship. “Find out what it is that person does, and offer to introduce them to someone in your personal network whom they might like to meet.”
The most crucial thing to remember is to do so without expecting anything in return in the short run. “It takes time for something to happen – six months to a year before you build the sort of relationship that could bring returns.”
Australian networking coach Robyn Henderson says she is not surprised by Misner’s findings.
“I don’t believe that [the research] says men are bad at networking, it’s just that women put in the time and are more patient with the process,” she says.
Henderson says women who find it difficult to turn relationships into business opportunities should take a leaf out of a male approach.
“Women tend to undersell themselves, and be less confident when they’re introducing themselves,” she says.
Henderson has encountered many women at networking events who downplay their professional title or the number of years of experience they have.
“It’s because they tend to be more humble,” she says. “But what they don’t realise is that they’re losing out on getting the credibility they deserve.”