Question: How do men network differently than women and how can we understand their perspective to make more successful connections?
Answer: Let me answer your question this way: be observant about how people in your industry / place of work, network. How do they connect in order to get ahead? Many of us are (or were) in professions that are male dominated (bosses, colleagues, clients and direct reports) however, not all professions network the same way. As a young lawyer in Toronto, I learned to play golf because that is where the movers and shakers in the bankruptcy and insolvency bar (my area of focus) hung out, got to know each other and most importantly, handed out work. That all changed when I moved to New York City. My clients liked to go to concerts or sporting events, they liked to party. I put away my very average golf skills and stepped up to developing an appreciation for baseball.
I’m also going to answer this question by borrowing from my mentor, the late Frank Kimball’s remarks to a legal industry audience of young professionals (mostly students) — all women. Asked “whether they needed to know something about American football”, Frank responded:
The answer is a qualified yes. Not because football defines America. Not because it’s emblematic about what’s right with the world. Far from it. It is one of many things you need to know a bit about in order to be fluent in the language of business. Many of your clients, potential clients, and members of your actual and aspirational network will be sports fans. Some will know more about a sport than anything else in life. Most will be more casual — keeping up with the Bears or the Patriots is just a part of their day to day life. Cultivating, expanding, and creating relationships is about finding common ground. But it’s also more about reaching out to find out what is of interest to the other person in the conversation. That demonstrates respect, interest, and the desire to know more about them.