We are businesswomen. We are leaders. We are a part of the business community and wish to be seen as equals and not be segregated because of our gender. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many aspects of the business world. In the realm of networking, there is a divide where women and men of the same credentials are being judges differently simply because of the fact that they are male or female.
Because women are known to be more sociable then men, many potential networking partners see women as being friendly rather then attempting to make a business connection. Women realize this, and network more assertively and, thus, are seen as selfish and only interested in their own gains. However, men who behave in the same way of assertive networking are seen as sincere. In this “catch 22” lose-lose situation, how can a woman successfully and professionally network effectively?
Is the unfortunate notion true that women who are career-minded are viewed harshly or are men simply better people pleasers? In attempting to find a networking partner it is important to see him/her only at a networking partner and not as a friend and keep the relationship at its surface. Think broadly, not deeply. Network with as many people as possible rather than concentrating on strengthening one connection, as it can put the relationship under a friendship category instead of a professional one.
This does not mean that women cannot be friendly with those we want to make connections with. Do not confuse becoming a potential networker’s best friend, as mentioned above, with being friendly and showing a true and genuine interest in the other’s endeavors. This also does not mean that women should be passive in with in attempting to network. Be assertive in achieving what you want, but not aggressive. Niceness will get you a lot further in any networking and professional situation, as others wish to work with someone they feel comfortable with and can trust.
As women, we can use our naturally sociable nature to our advantage by honing and practicing the proper skills for networking instead of allowing it to be a professional disadvantage. We can efficiently create a large web of networks and, by being assertive in our attempts and keeping relationships broad, rather than deep, we can further ourselves as business professionals who defined by what we do, rather than our gender.