The Birth Of Women’s Networking
We’ll give you a pre-warning here, this post is all about women’s only networking – sorry fellas! Women’s only networking groups have been springing up all over the place in recent years, so we wanted to take a closer look at why that is, and what makes a women’s networking group different to mixed gender networking. For some women’s networking already has a bad reputation – it’s just a bunch of women all getting together to chat isn’t it? But often these people haven’t actually set foot in a women’s networking group, or have had a bad experience with an individual group (hey, it can happen to anyone). But these meetings aren’t the oestrogen fuelled gab-fests some seem to think they are. Women’s networking holds the same goals as mixed and men’s groups – to forge relationships and generate business. So what inspired women to start setting up their own networking events?
Timing Is Everything when Networking
As with most things in life, timing is everything. One of the main reasons women’s networking groups were created was to help women in business to juggle their home life and their work life without feeling like they were missing out. Many high powered, effective networking groups take place very early in the morning before the work day starts. In theory this is a great idea, it means you can get the benefits of networking without taking a chunk out of the working day, but it comes with it’s disadvantages.
Generally speaking, (and we mean generally!) the tasks of a woman in the morning and a man in the morning aren’t that different until they have a family. Then you can have mums getting kids up and dressed, fed and delivered to school all before rolling up to work to start their day. That doesn’t leave much time for networking. There are now a few networking groups who meet during the morning, usually between 9 and 12, and these have proven to be very successful, especially with women. Being able to network later in the day means there is no pressure to try and be superwoman in the mornings, instead being able to fit networking into the routine rather than the other way around. That’s why you will see most women’s only networking groups starting at around 10am instead of 6.30am.
Women Network Differently
This is a somewhat controversial comment, but it’s something we believe completely. Women do network in a different way and we should be proud of it. Women network in a women’s way and that doesn’t always fit that well within the more traditional networking formats. Women started setting up their own networking groups because they felt that the groups they were attending didn’t suit their style or meet their needs, and once they started they found that many women felt the same way and joined in. We’ve found (generalising hugely once again) that women tend to have a more relationship focussed approach to networking, which will involve getting to know their fellow members in depth, inspiring them to find a suitable way to do this.
We know that opinions differ wildly on this subject (and we would love to hear yours in the comments below) but there is a certain whiff of testosterone and competition that can be present at mixed networking events and this doesn’t suit everyone, in fact some people downright hate the competitive approach to networking. But for some people that approach works and the competitive nature allows them to thrive. Men shouldn’t have to change their preferred style of networking, and women shouldn’t feel they have to behave like men in order to get the best out of the group. So instead, women are able to network in an environment more suited to their style.
Mixed or Women Only Networking
To reiterate here – we aren’t saying that one approach to networking is better than the other. Your ability to network effectively depends on your personality and your skills, not your gender. Women network differently to men and that’s something we should embrace and be proud of. Ultimately it’s important to remember that networking and promoting your business are very personal things, so it’s important to find a method that suits you. For some that’s finding a mixed group that they feel comfortable with, for some it’s finding the right mix between formal and informal and for others it’s finding an all female environment they enjoy. If you find mixed groups work well for you, that’s great! But if you find your preferences sway towards a women’s only group, the option is always there. And if you want to give women’s networking a try for yourself, you can always come along and visit one of our groups