Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who is Better at Networking, Men or Women?

score_tjpg_l_mcculloch This article was written by Laurie McCulloch, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

While men and women are both good at networking they go about the process differently: men seem to focus on the connections they need to make to build their business.  Women seem to be more willing to help those who can’t help them in return at least not immediately or directly.  Perhaps this stems from the reasons people start businesses. 

The Australian Business Women’s Network recently conducted research to gather insights into why women started their business.  Suzy Davis, head of the research group, stated:
"Many women leave the corporate world, working for someone else, and start their own business for similar reasons. These reasons include:

  • Freedom to choose work hours and work location;
  • Working around raising children;
  • Being your own boss;
  • Setting your own salary;
  • Utilizing your creativity to create something new;
  • And financial freedom

A similar study was conducted to find out the reasons men start their own business.  The findings were:

  • Financial success;
  • Being an industry luminary;
  • Creating an institution;
  • Creating a legacy for family heirs;
  • And taking a leadership role

So if the studies are true and men start businesses to achieve financial success and women start their business to get a better work/life balance; perhaps their methods of networking are also different.

I have attended female and male oriented networking activities and the functions are noticeably different.  The men seek out men in position of authority and look to enhance business relationships; and women seem to spend time with women that do not necessarily provide a constructive business relationship.  Men look to develop a business connection; while women are more social.  It could be that women have a more natural tendency to create communities and men are motivated to establish pecking orders. 

Neither method of networking is preferable over the other, they are just different.  But maybe men and women could take a lesson from the other sex and incorporate techniques that enhance the development of a stronger social network made up of individuals that are tied by business interdependency.