Linkedin boffins analysed their data and came to the conclusion that men are more network savvy than women.
Their measure of network savviness is a ratio of two other ratios.
It seems a fairly crude measure and they acknowledge that there are a number of other factors that could explain the results;
“In the case of our data, there are several things relating to gender that could explain the results: seniority, job function, desire for the minority gender to connect with the majority gender (or stay close to the minority gender), etc.”
I’d like to refute this, to argue that women are better at building relationships and therefore are stronger networkers. However I’ve observed that women are more fearful of making contact, and often don’t seem to understand how it’s done. What’s true in the real world often gets amplified online.
Recently I was contacted by someone looking for an introduction as part of her job search. So far so good. I heard via my network that someone else was hired, but I didn’t hear back from her on how her meeting went or the outcome. I feel a little less likely to help her next time.
A friend who works in a similar field to me was applying at my company, I offered her the chance to meet me and some of my team. She seemed nervous, worried that it would be “cheating” to get that much inside information.
At a social event I met a young woman for the first time. Within about 4 minutes she’d asked me for a job. Which is networking suicide, yet if she’d asked to meet me for coffee and find out more about what my team do I’d have said yes.
I know that anecdotes are not the same as data but I see it again and again; women struggle to build and use their network. Yes I do see men who struggle as well, but perhaps one for every five equally qualified woman.
But the Linkedin research offers some hope, those of both genders working in non traditional fields for their gender; so cosmetics for men and ranching for women, out-network the traditional gender.
(If you want to learn how to network the best, and simplest guide I’ve read to networking is chapter four of The Jelly Effect: How to Make Your Communication Stick.)