Conversation Starter: “I Love Your Earrings”
WHY NETWORKING MATTERS
Recognising how we all can make a difference to the lives of others is a key part of why networking matters . Just recently, I met with a new connection who had attended one of our event to learn more about their Vision for their business. Following up is so important to really understand the “how” behind each other’s work. We discussed how we generate leads and some of the issues concerning getting known and finding the right clients. This is a conversation I have had often over the past 8 years of running YTM.
I know from experience that it takes time to build a following and having a supportive network can make all the difference to unlocking connections and opportunities.
WOMEN NETWORK DIFFERENTLY TO MEN
I shared my insights on how women-only networking events are effective and commonplace. The attendance rates are high and women eagerly take up the opportunity to connect with other women in business. Why are these events so successful? Do women network differently than men?
I believe there are differences that should be used to our mutual advantage. I have noticed that women are better at building rapport and developing conversations that build to a relationship. Often I have been introduced to a women and the first connection may be “I love your earrings” and as the conversation develops I may find they are a CEO or Business Development Manager. Generally men seem introduce themselves with their title “Hello I am…. and am the CEO of….” then determine if there are opportunities to work together before investing time in a relationship.
SHARING EXPERIENCES THROUGH NETWORKING
Most definitely there is a place for groups where women are encouraged to share their experiences and explore their business challenges together. However at YTM we bring both men and women together, because although there are some differences in the way they network, there is also enormous benefit in sharing different perspectives, knowledge, styles and experience.
My observation is that both women and men may be missing out. Women have extensive networks and if you remember that the person you are speaking to is a conduit to others, no one should ever be underestimated as to how they can help you and who they may be connected too. On the opposite side, women often have skills that could be utilised more by men in business. For example, design, social media management, blog writing, and allied health often attract women, whilst the professional services, IT and finance areas maybe services that women need to grow their business, and have a network that requires the skill set on offer.
By bringing like-minded people together we can all learn, share and engage with diverse personalities, perspectives, knowledge, and experience to unearth wisdom and learning. We expand our thinking, expose ourselves to new ways of solving problems, information, innovative ideas, the chance to receive and give support, and guidance. Importantly we all have individual talents and expertise what we benefit from. In turn, we benefit from the opportunity to extend ourselves, reach our full potential, start a ripple effect, make an impact, add value and achieve our goals.
Women seem to be natural networkers. Historically they have kept the home fires burning, gained support from other women and nurtured relationships. They like to ask questions, coach and encourage. They tend to connect through children, family, business challenges, successes and a desire to mentor other women seeking advice in the business space. They willingly express how they FEEL about their work/life challenges and share openly; they are often drawn to those who are similar to themselves.
BUILDING RAPPORT AND RELATIONSHIPS
Women tend to concentrate on building rapport and a relationship before they discuss business. They take a more selfless approach and focus on what they have to give and are often slower to ask for what they want. They tend to seek referrals for both personal and business requirements…whether recommendations for a hair stylist, website designer or an accountant.
By contrast, men’s networking is generally more focussed on what they want to achieve and their professional needs. They are more comfortable with a transactional or ‘hunter’ approach. Men tend to base their networking choices on who they are more likely to meet and who is related to their industry. They are keen to connect with others who can assist as a supplier, client or customer, but there appears to be less emphasis on finding a friend or confidant. Their approach can be more assertive and they are less afraid to ask for what they want.
As women tend to be more emotionally wired for connection they are drawn to networking to create connections. They look for friends, suppliers, clients and referrers.
If our network is too homogenous however, it can hinder our growth as it limits the breadth and diversity we stand to gain from connecting with others. We can miss out on opportunities to learn new things and really stretch our view of the world. We can also miss opportunities where we can utilise our expertise to generate income as each gender has something to offer. Why would we limit our potential to make connections?
At YTM events men and women are welcomed and encouraged. We focus on creating an environment that aims to meet the needs of the group and encourage interaction.. Our insights provide an opportunity to learn from guest speakers who not only offer professional and personal development, but also encourage conversations about the challenges of running a business and maintaining a life and a family at the same time. The different perspectives of our members and visitors, provide valuable opportunities to learn from each other and to develop interpersonal skills and understandings.