The holiday season, with its numerous parties and social events, provides lots of opportunity for networking. If we approach these networking opportunities by considering both our masculine and feminine energy we can increase the effectiveness of our efforts. We’ll enjoy it more and get more value from those we meet, thereby turning contacts into partnerships.
Whether we are male or female, we contain within us both the action-oriented masculine energy and the relationship-oriented feminine energy. And our best performance comes from leveraging both and letting them flow back and forth until we find the proper equilibrium for the given situation – a balanced state that I call good Gender Physics! Using these complimentary energies for networking seems obvious, but for me it wasn’t always the case.
When I was growing up, the only role model I had for a woman in business was Miss Kitty on the TV show “Gunsmoke.” She was a dancehall girl “gone good” who now owned the saloon where Sheriff Matt Dillon hung out when he wasn’t chasing stagecoach robbers. The only person she ever gave orders to was a practically speechless bartender named Sam, and she didn’t have business cards or a website. What she did have was a feather in her hair and whole lot of cleavage, which she wasn’t shy about using to her advantage.
When I started in business I knew that I didn’t want to emulate Miss Kitty’s “networking” style, but I had few alternatives; there were no women higher than me in my company or industry that I could look to for guidance. So I followed what the guys were doing: I started frantically swapping business cards. In my company’s culture a measure of sales effectiveness was how often you needed to get a new box of cards printed. But ultimately I didn’t find that strategy very satisfying or lucrative.
In retrospect, by “racking up the numbers” I had moved all the way over to the extreme end of the masculine continuum and had left behind the natural feminine talent of forming relationships, which I have come to realize is the basis of true networking. In fact, I have now formed three networking truths that focus on using good Gender Physics. They are as follows:
1) Networking is building relationships, and you do so by doing for others. This desire to help each other out is a feminine energy attribute, and practicing it is like putting money in the bank that can be withdrawn later.
2) Network by getting personal. By revealing something about ourselves, we make a connection on a deeper level. We send a message that “we are all in this together,” which is another feminine energy characteristic.
3) Develop an Elevator Speech. This is where your masculine energy kicks in. It’s time to market yourself and stand out from the crowd. Your brand is designed to differentiate you. It should be clear, succinct, and designed to help you meet your objectives.
Successful networking starts by using feminine energy to build strong, close relationships. Then masculine energy steps forward and makes a pitch, amplifying the strengths you bring to the table and making the most of the relationship you’ve developed. By combining both energies, you’ll be a more engaging individual and a more effective networker this holiday season.