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When it comes to online networking, men have come out on top according to a study by LinkedIn, the social network for professionals.
Earlier this year LinkedIn surpassed the 100 million user mark [See: Are you LinkedIn?], and have since been taking a thorough look at their data to establish user trends – this time round it was the ‘Battle of the sexes: Who are the savviest networkers?’ Needless to say, the results are fascinating.
According to LinkedIn’s study men are, generally speaking, the savviest networkers globally; however there are gender differences in terms of online professional networking behaviours, with some bemusing and against the grain trends.
The results are specific to the US, and the analytics team at LinkedIn used the connections data of current industry, current company and professional connections. ‘Savviness’ was measured as a ratio of two things; the ratio of one-way connections that men have compared to those that women have, and the ratio of male members to female members within each industry. So for example, if an industry has a lower ratio of females to males, but a higher ratio of one-way connections are made by women, then this industry can be labelled as ‘female savvy’.
So according to the study, males have a larger portfolio of connections in a wider range of companies and industries than women do. LinkedIn Connection Director Nicole Williams, explains that women may display a reluctance to network online, ‘Women can sometimes shy away from networking because they associate it with schmoozing or doling out business cards, when in reality, it’s about building relationships before you actually need them’.
Can this be true? As a pure generalisation, in my experience women are far more active when it comes to social networking and have a greater presence in this sense. What this does suggest however is that men particularly excel at business related networking as opposed personal networking, which I believe is where women have the upper hand.
Could there then be a difference in the types of networking that are favoured by each gender? In fact are women more ‘savvy’ when it comes to face-to-face networking? This highlights the limitations of the present study, but should be factored in as both networking methods are prevalent despite the obvious advantages of doing it online [See: Has Traditional Networking Been Replaced by Social Networking?]
There are huge gender differences when this data is dissected and analysed further into company and industry type. Not surprisingly, areas of male ‘savviness’ included Law and Capital Markets, whilst areas of female ‘savviness’ included International Trade and Alternative Dispute Resolution. However, what is really surprising is that male ‘saviness’ prevailed in typically female oriented industries such as Cosmetics and likewise female ‘saviness’ can be seen with male dominated industries such as Tobacco and Ranching.
This data is by no means conclusive, and certainly greater research would need to be conducted, especially at deeper levels such as age and seniority to fully establish who the savviest online networkers are across different demographics. Furthermore, just because a greater ratio of connections has been made does not necessarily indicate a networker with greater influence or proficiency, because the quality of that connection is being dismissed. Therefore, a greater degree of analysis should reveal just how effective those connections have been – which is a near impossible task considering its magnitude.
Many people will have their own circumstances and personal experiences which relates to their networking habits, whether that is online or face-to-face – and for these reasons it would be very hard to conclude who are the savviest of networkers.
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