Thursday, September 06, 2007

Guest Blogger - Marny Lifshen

Today we have another GUEST BLOG from marketing communications guru Marny Lifshen. Marny is my co-author for "Some Assembly Required for Women - A Guide to Networking Skills", which will be released later this year.

Men And Women Are Different

By Marny L. Lifshen

A few weeks ago I attended an educational conference and awards program for women called “Profiles in Power.” During the luncheon speaker and awards ceremony, I sat with one of my clients, who had purchased a table and invited a variety of clients and referral sources, including several men. Of the approximately 600 attendees of the luncheon event, I’d say less than 100 were men.

As we enjoyed our meal, I chatted with the man to my right, a banker in his late twenties or early thirties who had just moved back to town. He looked around the room and commented to me that it was a bit strange to be in a room with so many women and so few men. I smiled and commented back that in my 15 years of networking it was fairly common for there to be six men for every woman at professional events I had attended.

This is one of many reasons that I am co-authoring a book with Thom Singer specifically providing women with strategies and skills for networking. When I mentioned this to my lunch companion, he asked me, “Is networking really that different for women than it is for men?” The answer to this question is no and yes.

It is true that many of the basic philosophies and methods of networking apply to both men and women, and that anyone can learn to be a successful networker. The reality is, however, that men and women have different skills, strengths and styles. Our networking experiences can actually be quite different – even at the same event, within the same organization, or in the same industry or community.

While there is no question that we girls have come a long way in the business world during the past thirty years, we are still far from equal with our male counterparts, even on the networking front. After all, they’ve had generations of the “good ‘ole boy” network helping young men along. Women, however, do have advantages that we can leverage for success in networking:

Attention to detail: As most men will tell you, women tend to notice and remember everything! Our ability to keep track of details can be a huge advantage, as we can recall important information such as when we last met someone, their profession or employer, and recent accomplishments or news. Women also tend to be thorough with follow-up, delivering promised information or promptly scheduling meetings.

The personal touch: Men can be all business, all the time – and that includes networking. But one of the best ways to make a connection, and to then build that connection into a successful relationship, is by adding a personal touch. Asking about family, remembering birthdays, learning about hobbies, taking food preferences into consideration when choosing restaurants – personal touches like these, which most women do instinctively, make a positive impression and help develop rapport.

Multi-tasking: Networking events and organizations offer a great place for women to utilize one of our most valuable skills… multi-tasking! We are comfortable and experienced in juggling multiple activities simultaneously, so meeting new people, re-establishing connections with existing contacts, hosting clients or colleagues, and expanding our skills and knowledge through educational programs and volunteer activities (all at one event) is certainly achievable.

Etiquette expertise: Whether sending thank-you notes, properly introducing people at events, RSVP-ing, or returning a call in a timely manner, women usually believe etiquette matters are important, while men can often overlook them. Again, this is an opportunity to set us apart and make a positive impact while networking.

So embrace your natural style and abilities, ladies! These differences from our male colleagues can be advantages, and used properly can lead to even more success in networking.

Have A Great Day.

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