Who is Better at Networking – Men or Women?


Chantal

How do men do it?

Having been to quite a few networking meetings, I’ve seen that men are really good at going into a room full of people and starting up a conversation with someone they’ve never met before. They don’t seem to worry, as women do, about ‘getting it wrong’. In fact, they probably don’t even know that there might be a wrong way, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Some men are very good at wearing suits and blending into the crowd. A room full of dark grey and blue suits makes it really hard to remember one from another. No one stands out.

I also think that men keep to the script. They often use the ‘what do you do?’ question because it’s safe and it’s an easy question to get a conversation going. However, men do seem to be quite good at swiftly moving on to telling what they do. Did he really listen to what I just said, or is he just desperate to get on to talking about his business?

Men will often go away from a networking meeting, with pockets full of business cards. Do you ever hear from them again? Do they follow up with the contacts they’ve made and keep in touch with them or do they just put all those cards into a box and wait for the phone to ring?

How do women network?

Women are much more nervous about going into a room full of strangers and striking up a conversation. They’re better at catching up with people they already know – to the point where they might only speak to people they know. They may spend a whole meeting not talking to anyone new.

Women are great at building up strong relationships with people they meet, really getting to know them and their business, before they’ll work together. It can take a long time for a woman to trust you enough to give you her business; and even longer before she’ll recommend you to someone she knows, in case you harm her reputation.

Women care much more about the impression they leave with new people. Did I say the right thing? Did I say the wrong thing? Did I say too much or too little? Am I worrying too much about too much?

I think that women have a tougher time when it comes to working out what to wear. Women can’t just rely on a safe, dark suit. They really have to think about what to wear. Suit or dress? Jacket or no jacket? How much make up? Many women seem to get it wrong, usually by not dressing to impress. The beauty therapist who turned up in jeans and a T-shirt, with no make-up on and messy hair; the consultant in a pinstripe suit who scared off the potential small business clients.

Follow up is much easier for women. With so many ways to keep in touch – newsletters, Twitter, LinkedIn, meeting for coffee – it’s easy to do.

So who does it better?

There is no right or wrong way to network. There are just some ways that are better than others. I don’t think men are better at it than women and I don’t think women are better at it than men. I think we all have our own strengths and that there’s a lot we can learn from each other.

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