Do women network differently from men? How could we do it better?

By Diana Vanbrabant (Writer, TheNextWomen)

Building up a good business network has become essential to business success – whether you are a manager needing support as you forge your way up the corporate ladder, or an entrepreneur embroiled in the challenges of finding clients for your own business.

Corporate women network for career advancement and entrepreneurs for building up their businesses– the same reasons that men do it. But they tend to keep the possibilities in the back of their minds all the time, nurturing relationships that may come to fruition some time in the future. And they will be continually aware of their contacts who may need a career boost themselves. Men are likely to pay less attention to their contacts until they have a need, and then cast around in a less premeditated way to see who among their contacts is able to help them.

When it comes to building clients for a business, the similarities are probably closer. Only entrepreneurs who keep the possibility of new clients at the top of their minds all the time will succeed in business. Events such as Chamber of Commerce networking evenings and “speed-dating” business exchanges seem to be attended by a fairly balanced gender mix.

“When it comes to social media, women may well be better at it than men. My list of contacts on LinkedIn comprises almost exactly twice as many women as men!”

But reports show that women still need to do more networking – and to do it more extensively. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) study on “The Role of Networks in Women’s Entrepreneurship and Business Ownership” shows that women working in their own businesses tend to have smaller networks than men, and that in most regions their networks are less diverse.

Women more often turn for advice to their family members, while men are more likely to seek advice from friends and other network sources. GEM suggests that this could put women at a disadvantage, since their sources of advice might be less innovative and less internationally-minded.

The report is available at this link: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor: 2010 Women’s Report
» Read the full article on TheNextWomen.