Women’s business networking – social or business?

Recently, I went to a Womens Networking lunch, something that I don’t do very much at all and whilst I found it interesting it didn’t set the world on fire for me.  Maybe that is because I am used to working in a corporate environment and most of the women at this lunch were business people.  Still good, just different.  After the event, I was surprised that only one of the people that I had met followed up with me via an email to further describe their business.  This is something that I always do if possible and have always found that most men do as well.

When the organiser of the lunch rang me a week or so later and asked for feedback I told her about this lack of followup and to my amazement her response was something like “oh yes, women take a bit longer to get to know each other so you might need to get to know a few first” (by going to more of these paid lunches!).  What I thought?  Its not the way that I am used to doing business, I understand getting to know people and building relationships, but it seems that this “female way” is more of a social gathering than business building.  What do other people think?

You can discuss this topic and others by going to the Changing Women’s discussion board and following the links.  Changing Women is a not for profit organisation founded by me and you can see the vision here.


2 thoughts on “Women’s business networking – social or business?

  1. Hi Susanne, I think this is an interesting topic, although I might rephrase it as “to what extent does gender influence a person’s approach to networking?”. I think there may be gender influence but I suspect there are also other factors including business culture – networking is just more established as an accepted practice in some countries or even cities (eg New York); the size and nature of the local business community and the mix of social vs professional contact – in smaller business communities there is heavy overlap between the two; the DNA of the individual – some are just more systematic in exploiting networking opportunities; and finally, the individual’s context – the more you need to exploit networks, eg if you are looking for a job or to meet revenue targets, the more you will push, versus file away the contact as someone useful you can tap into at a later stage.

    I don’t want to overanalyse this because I generally agree with your observation that women, all other factors equal, are in my personal experience more long term networkers and less systematic about short term follow up. Many I have observed are more event-driven so once a problem comes up, they ask “who in my circle can facilitate access to the right person?” whereas I suspect men tend to take the contact to the next stage before filing it in their rolodex.

    Gross generalisations I am afraid! How about posting a version of this on Globiles? and see if we can get opinions from around the world?

    1. Yes I like your title much more. I will revise it and post to my globiles.com account as you suggest. Should be interesting to see the feedback from an international audience.

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