Are Women Bad Networkers – What’s The Verdict?

Women networking This article which originated in the Times has generated
something of a backlash in the ‘twitterverse’ and online in general, including
this rebuttal by Women Unlimited. As Julie Hall states in the rebuttal article ‘Last
Monday, at the Women Unlimited Stepping into Success conference, the buzz was
deafening as women were connecting and building new
with each other.  In my 10 years of networking, I have never
seen this kind of connection and energy at a mixed networking event.
’ The Times
article points out ‘women are not natural networkers’ and cites this as one of
the reasons there aren’t more women in Board positions and Gordon Brown even
waded in this week saying companies could be threatened with ‘serious action’
to ensure more women at the top in UK PLCs. However, this all detracts from the
argument in question about whether women can or can’t network. One quote caught
my eye about women using social networking online, Liz Cable, a social media
expert, says: “I think when women hear the phrase ‘social network’, they hear
social. Men hear network.”
And I think this cuts to the chase of the issue. It
isn’t that women can’t network
it is just that they do it differently to men,
and actually they are probably very ‘natural networkers’. In fact on Blog Radio
this morning ‘mumpreneur’ Alli Price, of Motivatingmum network stated that she
finds female entrepreneurs very willing to network and help each other out
without necessarily requiring financial reward in return.
 I dedicate a large section in my book ‘Beyond
the Boys Club’
to networking and in the words of PWC’s Janet Davies: ‘Networking
is everything. I don’t know a single successful woman who does not have a high
quality network of friends and colleagues on which she can rely’
Again I think
the emphasis for women here is the friends part – in order to network
successfully we women need to build a relationship and feel that this can be a
two way street
, not that we are just schmoozing for what we can ‘get’ from the
connection. The highest growing demographic of online social networks is women
over 30
and as my friend Andy Lopata, one of the UK’s leading business networking
strategists suggests ‘There is no other route I’m aware of that offers such
exposure so efficiently’
and in fact on LinkedIn alone there are over 3000
groups dedicated to women networking.
I think this all serves as proof that
yes, women CAN network, but maybe we do it in a less formal and hardnosed way
than men.

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  • Alli Price

    Hi, I received notice of this blog through my ‘network’ on Twitter and just wanted to add a few comments. In my three years experience running Motivating Mum networking events I would have to say that the way in which women network actually allows them more opportunities than men.
    This is for two reasons:
    1. As women are more friendly and accepting, people new to networking are less intimidated to come along. This means that everyone at the event now has access to a new person, new information, new experiences and new opportunities. How many people don’t go to networking events that are male dominated for this reason? How many opportunities are lost in the process?
    2. Women at networking evenst will talk to anyone regardless of if they think they can ‘get’ something or not. Men tend to be more hard-nosed about who they seek out or talk to. I can’t count the number of times I have been speaking to someone who I would have pre-judged as probably not being helpful to my business, only to find they were an accountant in a past life, they have a friend who requires my services etc etc. Women take the time to get to know each other and discover links and opportunities far past the obvious.
    I agree that it is a very different type of networking – and I definitely know which one I prefer!
    Cheers, Alli

  • Suzanne Doyle-Morris

    Thanks for the comment, Alli – I think you are right – too frequently what is “successful” networking is judged by previous male models that were more of a scatter-gun approach that allowed for a great deal of shallow (who else is better in the room for me to talk to?) contact with more people. I do think women take more time to trust those they network with – which can be both a blessing and a curse!