I recently attended a networking outing as the guest of Reid and Riege’s Womens Alliance. It was a day of “golf for non-golfers” at the Tumble Brook country club in Bloomfield, CT. I was the guest of estate planning attorney Ingi-Mai Loorand. I made some great new business connections and had a ball. My score didn’t matter, in fact, we really didn’t keep score. We just enjoyed each others company and a day out of the office.
It got me thinking….
Do men and women network differently?
Of course we do. We think differently; we communicate differently; and we relate differently. Even our brains work differently. (see John Medina’s book Brain Rules – chapter on gender differences).
Occasionally during my workshops on networking skill development, a man will ask me if my networking methods and techniques are more effective with women.
It has been my observation that women tend to build relationships through conversation, while men tend to build relationships through activity. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that golf remains one of the most compelling “venues” for men to network and build business relationships.
Spending quality time with people of influence
There is power in the game of golf, notably the opportunity to spend quality time with people of influence. It is the quintessential business networking activity, at least for the baby boomer generation. The jury is out on how Gen Y will network. Can you golf and IM at the same time?
Men have been leveraging the golfing “venue” for networking and relationship building forever, it seems. Women are catching on to this opportunity. More and more women are starting to take lessons and are getting more comfortable playing golf and conducting business on the golf course. I suppose it’s a new spin on equal opportunity – equal play for equal day’s work.
Yet for many professional women, the idea of taking 4 hours out of the work day to spend leisure time with other business people is simply out of the question, even if their male colleagues do it as a regular course of business. Are women too responsible or too short sighted to see what we are missing out on? Perhaps women need to look at this situation through a different lens.
We might therefore consider the idea that business doesn’t always have to be conducted in an office or traditional “place of business.” Building and sustaining your professional relationships through sport and other enjoyable activities just might create the networking magic you need to accelerate your career and business growth.
What if you don’t like playing golf?
Well, there’s always food – you can gather together to network over lunch, dinner and/or morning coffee. You could go for a walk together and get some fresh air (but try not to get too winded as that looks bad for business health).
Let’s get together for a manicure
What other venues are available to you to conduct networking and relationship development? Try this one on. How about meeting for a manicure and conversation? Could you actually rationalize that in your own business mind? How about the guys?
I have a client who works for a CPA firm. She had attempted once to get a client entertainment expense pre-approved by her (male) partners for an outing to a day spa with her best client. The partners balked at the idea and declined her request. One hour later, they were headed for the golf course to conduct business with their best client. Hmmm.
What’s the difference?
Manicure with clients versus a round of golf with clients? Time spent in leisure that creates an opportunity to discuss business in a more open, relaxed environment. Nails vs. clubs. The venue and activity may be different, but the goal is the same: strengthen the business relationship.
Whatever floats your boat
My networking friend Jane Goldsmith shared her thoughts on the question of golf vs. manicure. She said it was a matter of appreciation and motivation. “Whatever floats your boat. If they like it, do it together.” In my opinion, Jane is a master connector and relationship builder extraordinaire. Over the years, she has spent time with clients and networking contacts in all sorts of venues and activities including in the salon, on the golf course, at the restaurant, and going for walks.
Have some fun in your networking
Do men and women network differently? Thank goodness we do. We have much to learn from each other if we open our minds and appreciate our differences. Your professional network should include both men and women and people from all walks of life. Consider it a balanced portfolio. Make it a priority to build and sustain these mutually beneficial relationships before you need them. And why not have a little fun along the way?
Your thoughts on the matter?