Fear, the final frontier: Why women are bad at networking

j0400337 A recent UK Times Online headline read, “Why women are such bad networkers.” My knee jerk reaction was to cry foul. One problem – it’s true. Well it’s true for many of us. We’re not talking about setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts or being the life of a party when you know and like everyone there. No, we’re talking about the kind of networking that gets empires established, rules changed, and money – serious money – made.

Last week we mentioned a few things we could learn from men. Networking – effective networking – should have been on that list. The UK Times article struck a nerve because it spoke so many truths:

  • As much as we’d like to think that hard work and good ethics will grant us business success, socializing and relationship building is just as, or even more important than working hard.
  • Women are more afraid of people they don’t know saying no, either in person or online, and men don’t worry so much about rejection — they just do it. Who knows how many yesses women have missed out on, all because we feared hearing no.
  • Women hear the phrase ‘social network’ and focus on social, men, focus on network.
  • Speaking of social networking, twice as many men as women are likely to approach an unknown contact from an online network for business purposes.

To improve our networking skills, experts suggest  that women work harder to knit their social and business lives together. Create separate Facebook accounts for personal and business purposes and reach out to business contacts, both male and female, that you meet through social and other networks.

In one of our favorite business books, The 4 Hour Work Week, Timothy Ferris assigns his readers ‘Comfort Challenges’ – challenges that will move us quickly, and uncomfortably, out of our comfort zones. One challenge requires the reader to approach strangers they find attractive and ask them for their phone number. That’s not something most women would ever do. What if the person says no? And therein lies the problem. When you’re petrified of hearing the word “NO”, you’ll talk yourself out of doing just about anything, including empire building.

What are your thoughts on women and networking? Are we as bad at it as the article suggests? Share your thoughts in the comment section or on our Facebook fan page.

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