Business networking is important. It is important for everyone, but especially important for women. There is still a glass ceiling in some industries where breaking over the top is difficult and gender can occasionally be a part of that. Have you heard of the Old Boy’s Club? It still exists. There are the closed doors of the boardroom. It may not even be that men desire to do business that way, they have just done business with friends for years and their friends are typically other men. So why should they let any newcomer of any kind into their circle when they have a system that they feel is working?
Women need to earn their way into those closed rooms. One can’t assume that it is a different world now and that they will just throw open their arms and welcome in the unknown. Men want to know that there will be a positive result from the interaction of any new business. So women need to network and get out there into the marketplace and make more friends. People will do business with you if they know you and if they feel comfortable that you can deliver on your promises.
While more and more companies are hiring female CEOs, most big companies are being ran by men. They have the final decision on how money will be spent and who gets that great contract. Men like doing business with men. They are comfortable in that realm. They feel free to talk the way they talk. They usually like facts only and separate out emotional responses from decision making. They have been there for years and many see no need to change, so we need to bring something of value to the table to make them want to do business with us. So what does a woman entrepreneur bring to the table?
While men may control the spending in the boardroom, women control the spending at home. Over 80% of daily household decisions are made by women. The companies that trying to get into the wallet share of the general population usually know that but this would be a great time to remind them. As a woman you know more about how to get a woman to buy their product or service. They need your perspective in the Boy’s Club.
While some men complain that women show their emotions more than men do, one of the positive emotions that women share is joy. Women tend to feel more comfortable having a laugh in a group of people. They bring life to the party. At the CIBN.ca we put on business meetings for professionals every day of the week. The most enjoyable meetings are those with a good balance of men and women. Both sexes notice it and often comment on it. There is a warmth and a camaraderie in a group where there is female and male interaction.
Women have the hearts of other women. They are the mothers, the sisters, the friends of other women. Smart men realize that their company needs a female voice to be the advocate for their marketing to work. The bottom line for all business is the bottom line. If women are making purchasing decisions then every company on planet earth that is trying to sell to a woman, needs other women talking about their product. Doing business with female contractors and companies ran by women ensures a larger market share. The bottom line therefore is it is profitable to do business with women.
Women may like the comfortable networking that they are used to with the women’s organization but we are only half of the population. There is money being left on the table. Ladies there is a place for you in the Boy’s Club and many of the boys already know it. So make new friends. It is a new sandbox with it’s own set of rules. We may want to change the status quo but change takes time. The best course of action is to learn their existing unsaid rules and try to blend as much as principle will allow and enjoy the interaction and the new business that comes from it. For many men you will need to learn to present numbers and facts up front. It is almost as though you close them before you present to them. They are fact orientated. If you know that you can have a tremendous edge in that market, and even gain the full support of the Boy’s Club.
Kerry George is the owner of the Canadian Imperial Business Network which is currently the largest business network in Alberta and rapidly expanding across the country. She is a serial entrepreneur/author and speaker with a zest for life and a passion to help others succeed in increasing their potential and their bottom line. Kerry has several publications and blogs that you can follow and welcomes most interaction online.