I was at the Greenberg Traurig Women's Business Forum today listening to a panel discussion on strategies to advance women in the global workplace when someone said something that took me aback.
Greenberg Traurig Executive Director Cesar Alvarez said men are better networkers. He said this after being asked about the small percentage of women at his powerhouse law firm that are equity partners. Only about 12 percent of the law firm partners and top billers are women.
Alvarez really didn't elaborate on why he believes men are better networkers, he just said it matter of fact. But some women in the audience started to speculate that men are better because women don't have time to network. (They're busy with family responsibilities and work life balance concerns!) Other said women network for "friendships" or "relationships" rather than to ask for business.
Alvarez said women make a mistake. They think they need to target their networking efforts to other women, which he believes cuts them off the majority of decisions makers. He even said women need to think like men when it comes to networking and making sales pitches.
Personally, I think Alvarez is right. Men are better networkers because they're not afraid to ask for things in business. It's not that they're better at schmoozing. It's that they're better at schmoozing and turning it into business. Men ask. They ask for client work. They ask for raises, promotions, plumb assignments and if they get turned down, it's no big deal. They know how to deal with rejection because it's a byproduct of the competitive nature of men. They don't take it personally. Women are way behind in this area. But we're working on it.
Readers, what do you think, are men better networkers? If so, why?