Networking is something we all do to grow our businesses, find new career paths, seek out advice and establish ourselves. However, the ability and success at networking may have a lot to do with gender. Across the board, men and women do things differently - from organizational skills, expressing themselves to communicating and networking with others.
A recent study from LinkedIn shows that overall men are savvier online networkers than women in the U.S. The study developed a rating system in which it measured the ratio of connections that men have versus women, and the ratio of male members on LinkedIn to female members. "Men are more savvy networkers globally, but the data shows that men and women exhibit differences in their online professional networking behaviors."
LinkedIn's study shows that men dominate online networking. However, truly defining who is more successful at networking is much more subjective than objective. The definition of networking differs among genders, women look to make personal connections with others while men remain focused strictly on the business aspect of the conversation. The same can be said for on the job mentoring.
Catalyst conducted research published in Harvard Business Review regarding the ways in which women and men participate in career mentoring programs and how their participation leverages their career success. The researchers discovered that mentoring varies widely for genders and has much different results regarding career advancement. Sponsorship, an intensive type of mentoring in which mentors may persuade executives to consider their mentees for promotion along with training and modeling for mentees is less common among women. Without sponsorship, women not only are less likely than men to be appointed to top roles but may also be more reluctant to go for them - meaning that these intense sponsorships truly play a role in a person's promotion potential.
Instead, women build personal relationships in which they discover more about themselves, their mannerisms and approaches, and what they need to change in order to move up. While men develop strategic plans and actions to get their mentees to high positions - a much more goal focused approached than women receive.
While men have a stronger support and drive from their mentors they lack the personal connection. Women have the personal connection to their mentor or through networking, however the end result may have less of a successful impact on their career as they are less likely to have the support for higher positions and ultimately may be less likely to apply for these positions.
Is career success based on quantity or quality? Would you prefer deep personal connections to others that may result in career stepping stones or is your goal to gain promotion and success regardless of the type of connection? In what other ways do you see gender impacting the way women succeed in climbing the corporate ladder OR hinder them?
Successful networking is really about building relationships with the right people at the right time. Since we cannot see into the future, it's hard to foresee who might be invaluable to you in the future, so networking is really about being open in all situations. A healthy dose of curiosity about people really helps. Engaging colleagues, peers, managers, and executives in dialogue about what interests them, who they are, how they got to their station in life and career, are easy ways to open the door to important alliances. Networking is not about making friends, per se, but it IS about being friendly, approachable, and outgoing. Equal doses of professionalism and personal connection is key. Decision-makers hire, appoint, and promote people with which they are comfortable. That is almost always dependent on a good rapport (i.e. relationship) with the worker. Men tend to be better networkers because it is not personal to them. They don't have to "like" the person to have a connection. Men also tend to recognize strategic alliances. They know when to build a relationship with a person that can give them the access or influence that they need. Often women allow personal style and idiosyncrasies muddy the networking waters. Be open, assertive, likeable, and professional. Leave bias, insecurities, and shyness at home. Go to office goodbye parties, happy hours, company team sports, company outings, holiday parties, conferences, awards events. And by all means, don't spend the whole day at your desk. Circulate! Sometimes that's the best networking of all. Out of sight is out of mind. Often, being seen is the first step to being successful.
Debbye Turner Bell, DVM
The Early Show
Networking is a key strategy to success. As a female business owner and founder of Danielides Communications, Inc, I have never been adverse to sharing opportunities and information with colleagues that are willing to work together for the greater cause, be it new business or information that will empower. I believe that networking styles vary amongst gender and personality type. Females are more flexible in their style of networking and are more comfortable in their approach to "working the room" or building relationships. Amongst my peers, female colleagues are devoting countess time and energy to mentoring and supporting young professionals as they climb the ladder. NYWICI rules by example and that's a big reason why we established our Foundation. Year after year, we teach our scholarships students how to network and mentor them as they launch a positive career path. "Girls rule" on this issue!
Joannie C. Danielides
Founder and President
Danielides Communications, Inc.
Former President - NYWICI and NYWICI Foundation
I believe both quantity and quality are crucial to networking. It is best to have a large network of smaller, simpler connections to draw from when looking to forge stronger relationships based on the time in your life and career, your location, and your ambitions. It is not a matter of preference between the two -- both have their benefits and drawbacks. Dedicating yourself to a strong networking relationship is a serious commitment, so it is prudent to not overcommit yourself to others and risk letting them down. For women in particular, I think there is a bigger risk of things getting too personal for their own good. We all always want to make friends, but friendship is definitely different from a strictly networking relationship. While our desire for deep connections certainly helps us create them, we shouldn't get wrapped up in a select few at the cost of casting our nets wider.
NBC East Coast Page Program
NYWICI Foundation Board Member
Did you miss last night's Twitter chat with Debbye Turner Bell on this topic? Read through the transcript here. Join us at our next twitter chat on Tuesday, August 23, 8:00-9:00pm, follow @nywici and use #nywicichat in your tweets!