5 Reasons Women Make the Best Networkers
This is a guest post by Wheeler del Torro, an entrepreneurial consultant and speaker, founder of Small Bytes and Apps and Farmacie, and author of The Vegan Scoop.
Despite the progress women have made in business, there’s still pressure from the ol’ boys’ club to compete like a man. Yet when it comes to networking, women have natural tendencies that make them better at it than men.
The need to make interesting conversation with strangers is a daunting task, especially when everyone is waiting to make their next pitch. But women share five common characteristics that can give them an advantage over their male counterparts:
1. Women Are More Likely to Develop Relationships Over Time
Women tend to take the long view of a relationship. They patiently interact with someone to look for common ground and shared interests. Men may be faster to turn a conversation to business, but according to Ivan Misner’s survey of 12,000 entrepreneurs, women actually gain a higher percentage of business through networking and referrals. Longer relationships build trust and credibility, increasing the chances of doing repeat business and connecting with each other’s networks.
2. Women Listen Differently
Researchers are still looking for hard evidence that women are better at listening, but they’ve already determined that women listen with both sides of their brain. In relationship-building situations, women are more likely than men to listen actively to what other people say and move the conversation forward by commenting on the other party’s interests, rather than directing conversations back to their own agendas.
3. Women Are Comfortable Discussing a Range of Topics
Women earn more degrees than men and read more books each year, so it’s no wonder they tend to move more fluidly between conversation topics than men do. This is beneficial in the search for common ground with a new contact — as long as the conversation doesn’t end before it gets to business, which happens more often to women.
4. Women Are More Consistent in Relationships
In a study of male and female doctors, female doctors outperformed their male counterparts. Female doctors spent more time with their patients and devoted the time and attention necessary to prescribe follow-up treatments and modify care more often than did male doctors. The same skills are required for networking: taking time to get to know a person and finding out what he needs, then following up.
5. Women Are Better at Multitasking
Conversations at networking events involve listening, cataloging information, and formulating responses simultaneously, as well as (covertly) taking note of the event flow. Women are often better at performing multiple tasks at once, which is a clear advantage in these situations. They also tend to be more organized under pressure, so they may take a more logical approach to “working a room,” according to Susan RoAne.
Refining Your Skills
If you feel like you’re lacking in any of these areas or you have a strong aversion to talking yourself up to others, take heart. Networking is a learned skill, which means you can always improve it. Approach it like any other subject you’ve researched, and take every opportunity to practice.
One of the biggest mistakes women make in this area is being overly humble. Be confident not only in your ability to make connections and build strong business relationships, but also in what you have to offer. It’s okay — in fact, it’s necessary — to communicate to others that you’re a valuable asset. It’s not arrogant to accurately communicate your skills and expertise.
Don’t let the ol’ boys’ club make you feel like you have less to offer. Embrace these feminine qualities, rather than downplay them — the things that set you apart from the guys are the things that can get you ahead.
Wheeler del Torro is an entrepreneurial consultant and speaker. He has also made a name for himself as a professional chef, starting his career by hosting pop-ups and dinner parties, which led him to invest in small companies. He currently spends most of his time traveling across the globe to host pop-up restaurants and workshops on how to start a business. He wants to educate entrepreneurs on all aspects of starting a business, from conceiving an idea to gaining funding.