Family Obligations and Networking Men vs. Women

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Having run the world’s largest networking organization for many years, I
occasionally hear people express concern about family obligations interfering
with their ability to attend business meetings. Earlier this year I published a large
scale survey that addressed gender issues in networking. I was expecting to see
a dramatic difference between men and women relating to family obligations and
time to devote to their networking efforts. Instead, what I saw surprised me.
Several women had told me over the years that attending networking meetings in
the morning was very hard for them. This is understandable, because even though
our society appears more gender-equal than in the past, a large number of women
have told me that the lion’s share of household operation, organizing family events,
and taking kids to school are still handled by them.
Yet in our survey results, the difference between men and women turned out to be
very small; only a few more women (9.3 percent) than men (8.4 percent) expressed
difficulty with morning meetings. Almost 22 percent of men, compared with about
19 percent of women, said that it was always easier to attend networking functions
in the morning. Although the women in our survey found morning meetings to be
less convenient, it was not by a large factor.
It seems that the truth of the matter is this: The benefits of networking outweigh
scheduling obstacles!
Both women and men understand that, and this is why I believe the results were so
First, let’s take a hard look at financial benefits. As you know, in any business
there are both soft- and hard-money costs to consider. “Hard money” is that which
you take out of your pocket and includes credit cards, cash, checks, and other
possessions with monetary value.
The term “soft money” is used to assign value to services or invested time, otherwise
known as sweat equity. It may come as a surprise to you, but the riches that invested
time reaps are greater than hard money spent. You also get more value for your
soft-money investments than you would for spending what you think the equivalent
is in actual dollars.
If you were to add up the soft-money investments of labor, networking, connecting,
and building relationships you may be surprised at the financial value you’ve
delivered to your business.
Let’s look at the array of positive wealth effects that networking brings, beyond just
sales numbers…
- Added sales volume
- Higher average transaction amount per sale
- Greater closing ratio
- Referrals tend to be very qualified professionals
- Higher occurrences of leads and referrals
- More repeat business
- Greater positive word-of-mouth marketing benefits
- More customer loyalty
- Stronger community recognition
- Greater perceived value
The more solid relationships you build, the more credible you are. The more your
credibility grows, the more people will hire and recommend you.
Even more important: The impression of quality is created through networking.
The impression of quality is a powerful one. It is well-known that consumers are
willing to pay more for services and products that they equate to be high in both
ethical and product value. From locally grown organic produce and safer foods, to
fair-trade-produced coffee and businesses that donate a portion of their proceeds
to philanthropic ventures, consumers, by their spending choices, are showing the
market that ethics and quality are what they want.
What better way to convey the image of quality for your business than with the
support vote of those who believe in you so much that they can’t stop talking about
By the validation of many people vouching for you, your name is passed along with
more and more frequency and confidence. After you have repeatedly established
proof of quality, you’ll be referred in such a manner that neither your rates nor
quality are questioned. These benefits transcend gender differences.
Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling
author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization. His
newest book can be viewed at Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for
the Referral Institute, an international referral training company.


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