I know I’m going to hit a hot button with this one. So I will apologize in advance.
I read a great article from the BBC News (written by Jane O’Brien). It’s entitled, “Do women need to improve their networking skills?” So I got to thinking. Have I seen a trend over the past seven years in the Business Forum with respect to whether men or women make the best networkers?
I’m going to quote the first two sentences of the article:
“There is a widely held belief that women are generally better than men at developing and maintaining relationships.”
“But many women seem unable to transfer those skills to the business world, where the same activity is commonly called “Networking.”
The article goes on to discuss how women have to take on activities that are typically dominated by men so as to effectively network. These activities include playing poker, golf, and discussing sports.
Maybe. Perhaps that is true if you want to become president of General Motors. But I don’t think that’s the answer for all of us in sales.
Over the years, I have observed that neither gender has a leg up on the other with respect to networking or being a connector. Regardless of gender, networking is like customer service. It can’t be taught. It comes from inside. Ask someone who is great at customer service how they were taught to be this good at it. I’ll bet they tell you that they just really enjoy it. It’s the same with networking and connecting.
One of the best networkers I’ve run across in Anna Wintour. Ms. Wintour is the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine. She sets aside two hours every day in the afternoon to network. She has set up a disciplined routine and sticks with it.
So regardless if you are a man or woman—for all of us who wake up every morning, put our salesperson hat on, and jump back into the trenches to duke it out with your competitors, I will say the following:
Good luck and good networking (and I hope you hit the inside straight).