Are men better networkers than women? A Linkedin study from 2011 found that men are more savvy than women at networking online.
Anne Fulenwider, editor-in-chief of Marie Claire magazine, recently had this conversation with Amy J.C. Cuddy, assistant professor at Harvard Business School and famed TED speaker.
“Amy said that women are known to be sociable and men are known to be not [as sociable], so when men go out of their way, they’re given bonus points,” Fulenwider told Business Insider. In short, when women network aggressively, they’re believed to be doing it solely to gain career trajectory, said Fulenwider, but when men go out of their way, it is perceived to be genuine.
This was seen in a case study conducted by Columbia Business School more than a decade ago when researchers asked students what they thought of venture capitalist and legendary networker Heidi Roizen. The researchers found that students deemed her “more selfish and less desirable” than the fictional subject Howard Roizen, who had the exact same credentials and contacts as Heidi. Basically, Heidi was given a lower likeability rating than Howard for no other reason than being a woman.
Does society view career-minded women too harshly, or are men just better at charming the crowd? And if it’s the latter, what are women doing wrong?
According to Wall Street powerhouse Sallie Krawcheck, it all comes down to casting a wider net and thinking broadly, instead of deeply. This means networking and connecting with as many people as possible — especially those outside of your industry. You need to put yourself out there, said Krawcheck, but you don’t have to become good friends with everyone you meet. And this is where women, in particular, run into trouble.
“Women tend to fall into the ‘best friend syndrome.’ We invest deeply in our friendships and conflate casual relationships with shallow ones,” Krawcheck wrote in Marie Claire’s November issue.
This is unnecessary and impractical. You can’t spend time grabbing coffee with every person you meet.
“Loose connections are the connections you need. It’s the No. 1 rule of business,” Krawcheck said last week at Marie Claire’s luncheon for the “New Guard,” a group of women who are deemed masters at turning contacts into opportunities. Krawcheck told the audience how a loose connection she met nine years ago led her to buy 85 Broads, a global women’s network, this year.
Someone you see twice a year may know of opportunities you don’t, said Krawcheck, and if you’ve made a good impression and put yourself out there, they’ll likely think of you.
But how do you ensure that you’re making a good impression or that people will think of you when opportunities arise?
“It’s all about being present in the moment, having a genuine interest in this person, and understanding why they’re interested in the field that they are in,” said Fulenwider. “You don’t have to make this person your best friend, it doesn’t have to be the most meaningful connection,” but it does need to be a genuine one, she said.