“I would not be exaggerating in saying that last night was the most well received and successful event YEN London has had in over two years. ”
Jairo Jaramillo - Chairman, London Young Engineers Network
“I would recommend Andy to come and spend time with any team that wants to maximize the time of its busy people out in the market ”
Tomas Freyman, Partner, Valuations. BDO llp
“There are many motivational speakers on the circuit who leave behind them just a short lived glow and then there are the subject matter pragmatic, passionate presenters who can potentially change the long term way their audience thinks or operates. I’d put Andy Lopata in the latter category. ”
Trevor Salomon – Director, Corporate Marketing, IFS
“Andy’s style suited our company values perfectly as it is very much based around letting people learn at their own pace and be part of the sessions instead of just being presented to. There was a mixture of experience, job roles, nationalities and seniority in the room and Andy ensured that everyone felt this training was directed at them, such is his way with words. ”
Robert Kenward, Global Development Director, Banks Sadler
“Several people were surprised to find out that Andy didn’t work in our sector as he related his knowledge so well and confidently, which was key to getting the audience to buy into his advice. ”
Suzanne Rowse, Director, British Boarding Schools Workshop
“As a direct result of Andy’s workshop, we are now implementing a “networking strategy” that is aligned to supporting our key business goal. Andy’s advice/insights have made me re-think all my customer interactions and even in the short term I am getting results. ”
Adam Newman, Health Outcomes Consultant, GSK
“Andy Lopata is a true role model for any aspiring professional speaker in my view ”
Heather Townsend, author of The Financial Times Guide to Business Networking
“There is a handful of people who I would consider really an expert in networking, and Andy is one of the few people on that list. ”
Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder and CEO, BNI
“"I was captivated by Andy's insightful and thought-provoking workshop. You could feel the energy in the room at the end. Several people commented that the event had changed their lives!" ”
Miranda Abraham, Chair, Women in Banking and Finance
“Andy has successfully elevated networking into more of a strategic arena ...................rather than it just being a "skills" thing. ”
Phil Jesson, Director of Speaker Development Academy for Chief Executives
“The feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive and we will continue to run the training in other offices in EMEA. ”
Astrid Huijssoon, Senior Marketing Manager Cross Border Trade - PayPal CEMEA
“The feedback we received from members was overwhelmingly positive, making it one of the best sessions we had all year. ”
Aileen Parsons, Relationship Manager - Strategic Client Services, Paypal
“I found the session with Andy really interesting and helpful. It offered a different perspective to development sessions I have been to before and it made me really think about how I was positioning myself at work and what I needed to be doing differently. ”
Tori Henderson, Senior Public Policy Manager HSBC
“Andy is really engaging and left the audience wanting more which is a rarity when you work in Finance! He is extremely professional and personable and it felt like Andy really knew the topics and had researched the audience. ”
Nicola Hradek, Co-Chair HSBC Balance Employee Network
“Andy, thanks again for making our Balance HK event a huge success. The audience gave you their undivided attention and you could hear a pin drop when you were speaking. I have never witnessed that before, with a room of 170+ people! ”
Maggie Suttie, Chair Balance Network, HSBC Hong Kong
“Andy's enthusiastic and interactive presentation at our National conference was very much appreciated by all and his series of workshops for my leadership team has been put to significant positive use. ”
Shona MacDonald, Business Director UK & Ireland, Wound Care. Molnlycke Health Care
“In the pre-event correspondence, you were the most professional speaker we’ve ever had. By asking great questions as you did, it helped to make us more professional event organisers. ”
Jackie Barrie, Co-President, Professional Speaking Association South East England
“It was the best talk I’ve ever been to. Loved the content, pacing, delivery, structure. Your message was very memorable (imparting that much information can leave listeners forgetting what was said) and you managed the balance between substance, detail and memorability well. ”
Rebecca Aguilar, BBC Worldwide
“Andy worked with my business partner and me for a number of months as a referral and networking coach. Our business has demonstrably grown due to the new techniques and skills learned through working with Andy. ”
Dan Hall, Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch
“It is great to work with a speaker like Andy who really wants to understand the audience he speaks to and tailors his content to them. ”
Galina Lebedeva, Education & Events Senior Co-ordinator, Wella UK & Ireland
“In the three months since Andy delivered his sessions, I've noticed a clear change in the approach taken by everyone who participated. We have already received a number of referrals as a result. ”
Andy O'Sullivan, Head of Sales - Hospitality, Wembley Stadium
“'Networking' as a topic can often seem forced... about tools and techniques to 'work a room' or 'get noticed' - Andy's take on it in this talk was so far removed from the glib truisms we've all heard before. ”
Bryony Thomas, Watertight Marketing
“Andy's 'The Networking Mindset' networking event was fascinating. I've been to loads of networking events over the years which are always full of people who don't quite know why they're there.... myself included. ”
Nicholas Harkin, Head of Risk & Governance at Close Brothers Retail Finance
“Andy has a can do and flexible attitude and is happy to develop and shape the content in line with the clients changing needs. Feedback from participants on Andy's workshops has been consistently very positive. ”
Una Murphy, Manager BBC Careerlink
“Andy certainly made a difference on how I normally approach / perceive events such as this. ”
Ann Azzopardi, Category Buying Manager, Pret a Manger
“The process to gaining the right referrals does not happen overnight, but executing Andy’s strategy into your daily business routine will lead to referral success. ”
Tom Price LLB DipPFS Hodgson Wealth Management
“I have already received three emails and two telephone calls from attendees who have expressly advised that as a direct result of the presentation they will without doubt be changing the way in which they network. A huge success. ”
Michael Strawbridge, Head of Member Services, Learning and Performance Institute
“Not only my individual life has had a total makeover after I met Andy, as a result of my personal improvement, the networks that I lead are now making a much bigger impact in the society. I can never thank Andy enough and would highly recommend him any time without hesitation. ”
Ruth Lau, Central Marketing, HSBC Private Bank
“Andy is an energetic presenter who quickly captured our audience's attention. The content of his presentation was excellent and fostered lively commentary and questions. We will definitely have Andy back for another session and are looking for other ways to partner with him. ”
Jennifer Rademaker, Head of Strategy Development Europe, MasterCard
“At each stage of the event from planning to delivery to follow up, Andy’s approach was extremely impressive. He spent time at the outset understanding us, the way we work and our key objectives and this continued with discussions with us in the run up to the event to shape the session to our needs. ”
Andrew Kelly, Director Human Capital Services, BDO llp
“Wherever I go, Andy is held in very high regard and I can personally endorse him as someone who is easy to do business with, professional and also great to work with. ”
Phil Jones MBE, Managing Director, Brother UK

What, if any, are the benefits of gender specific networks?

Women's networking groups have grown in popularity in recent years, both for entrepreneurs and within large companies. As they have grown, so they have polarised opinion. I have worked with a number of such networks and forged relationships with many others and have come across many women who feel they do a fantastic job. I have also met women who have been very critical and feel that they play a negative role by reinforcing gender roles and pigeon-holing.

This blog has been prompted by a question asked on Twitter by Vena Ramphal. Vena asked me, "What, if any, are the benefits of gender specific networks?" As I am not aware of any male-only business networks, and fear the reaction they would get should anyone wish to set one up, I am assuming that Vena is specifically referring to women's networks in her question.

First of all I think you have to look at the purpose of such networks. In traditionally male-dominated industries where women have struggled to secure strong representation at higher levels of management, the formation of a women's network has played a vital role in empowering women to work together and break through the glass ceiling.

In addition to attending a number of corporate women's networking events, I have spoken for BT's Executive Women's Network and Mastercard's Women's Leadership Network, as well as being involved in an event put on by Morgan Stanley Women's Network togethether with the European Professional Women's Network. A few years ago the idea of 'networking' was frowned upon by women attending such events. In fact, I was made to feel awkward for asking about women networking at such an event two years ago (I wrote about it in this blog).

As I mentioned in my blog at the time, women traditionally have felt that networking is manipulative, game-playing and the preserve of men. Suzanne Doyle-Morris's excellent book 'Beyond the Boys Club' makes it very clear that many of the behavioural traits that help men build their networks and succeed in large organisations do not come naturally to women. This is a real shame as women naturally have a lot of the core characteristics of good networkers (as I outlined in '...and Death Came Third!'), but are less comfortable when leveraging that network for personal gain.

Women's networks have brought women in such industries together and given them both the permission to network for career gain, and the means by which they can do so. Where the field is so uneven due to ingrained attitudes and behaviour, there are compelling arguments for supporting such gender specific networks.

Male dominance also plays a role in entrepreneurial networks. I have been to well over 1,000 networking events in the last decade and have, on many occasions, seen groups that are completely dominated by men. It is intimidating enough for someone to have to enter a room full of strangers, that is made even more difficult if you are the only woman (or man) in the room. The situation was in danger of becoming self-perpetuating as many women would prefer not to network at all rather than feel so vulnerable.

Women's networks have made networking more accessible for those people who did feel intimidated by attending male-dominated events. Not only is the room more welcoming, but networking with people who may share similar values or experiences makes the occasion so much more palatable for inexperienced networkers. My hope is that women who attend such events for these reasons build up sufficient confidence to attend other networks as well.

Another key benefit of gender specific networks (and this also applies to cultural networks) is learning from, and being inspired by, role models. I met with a prominent female entrepreneur recently and we were discussing the lack of successful women business role models. Women who are looking to succeed need to be able to look up and see other women who have achieved great things and from whom they can gain strength and support. Women's networks bring such women together and invite role models to speak and share their stories and advice.

I do think that gender specific networks have real benefits to offer, and probably many more than I have been able to outline here. The key is that they exist to provide those benefits, rather than just for the sake of being.

Comments

This is something which I was

This is something which I was discussing only a couple of days ago with Sally Asling from Surrey Lets.

I've been to various all female networking groups and been sadly disappointed. There have been few strong entrepreuners or role models but rather ladies who are providing a second income for their families.

I recognise though that for a newbie networker who might be nervous about speaking with strangers or men, that it's a great place to cut your teeth and get used to the whole process.

Thanks for an insightful answer to such a great question.

There are strong female role

There are strong female role models and entrepreneurs out there and there are some networks doing a fantastic job of connecting them. One example would be The Next Women who run regular sessions connecting powerful women and VCs with entrepreneurs. Speakers have included the ladies behind Google, Facebook, Microsoft, theOutNet and Chiconomise. I can think of several other high calibre networks too. So keep looking and you'll find!

There are many good networks

There are many good networks for women. I would disagree that they just exist for women who are gaining a second income. GeekGirls is one such network and does it best to provide networking evenings and social events for everyone. The name GeekGirl is used in my opinion to provide a attraction to women that they are not alone in their area of expertise. GeekGirls who are excellent and many women feel they would like to have a day out of the arena of competing with men and come and gain support and knowledge from other women out in the field.

I've been discussing this

I've been discussing this recently too. I agree networking events can be intimidating (whatever your gender) but I think your comment that women-only networks could perhaps best be a springboard to mixed networking is vital.
I get incredibly weary of going to these events and hearing women slagging off men and not 'getting over' the gender differences.
As a fashion retailer and stylist working mainly with women, women's networking is great for me but I also relish the different approaches that men can offer to my business.
We're in business, people. We all need to get over it.

Andy, great Blog and a very

Andy, great Blog and a very good subject. On Ecademy 70% of the members are male, and at our events men do dominate. I think we do attract confident women plus our network is very supportive and caring and so the men tend not to be aggresive hunters. I am sure as the take-up of social networking online grows women will feel more comfortable networking with men just as much as with women. I like the mix in a room, I love the banter and the closeness of the mixed genders and while I have attended women only events I have to say I prefer the mix.
I am not in a Corporate World though, and when I do step into it occasionally I can see why there is more need for the Gender Divide, I am sure if I was a Corporate Employee I would lean on Women's Networks a lot more.

Andy, Firstly I hope you

Andy,
Firstly I hope you don't regret asking me for an opinion, because if you want polarised you came to the right place! Fences are just so uncomfortable to sit on!!!

Frankly I HATE segregation of gender - maybe it is just me?

In everything I do in business I want to be in an open market. I want to be recommended and selected because I am the best person / the right person or the person someone else most likes to work. I only welcome "winning" when I know I am competing in a fair contest! It means more to me this way.

I agree each gender will face unique and gender specific issues / needs - but then that is where going to a trusted person in a wide network makes the difference... that's what friends are for!

In day to day business, and I've got vast corporate experience prior to SME, I do not recall ever facing an issue or a need for a "womens'" forum. There was one offered during my employment at Accenture, I didn't ever go along. I know the males resented it - there was no equivalent for them - and like them I felt that this was unfair.

Recently I was asked to sponsor a Women's award because "it would have synergies with my business" - I lost my rag with the sales person - I said my business served people in businesses. I didn't care who I liaised with, and certainly spent no time thinking about how I might treat them or be treated differently just because of the type of gentiles they were born with! The poor girl was probably a bit shocked, but her insistence to push this event on me, coupled with my strongly rooted values on this subject just resulted in her getting a bit of a barrage!

So to sum up, I'm passionately in opposition to being a member of a business networking group that segregates by gender. Admittedly not so against these groups as to decline when I am invited to be their guest speaker - I welcome that opportunity. In fact, being female I probably milk the fact they often favour female speakers...

I do support / agree with other kinds of networks that are there to support either genders with more personal or gender specific issues. I also welcome events / forums focused on educating both genders into the myths and realities, barriers and opportunities the genders face.

I'm not completely anti-gender specific then, just when it comes to business!

Clayer Rayner, you just want

Clayer Rayner, you just want it all. You want to be liked as a women by men. You want to use your female card to gain recognition. You do a dis-service to women kind. I think networks of any kind are good. If either sex chooses to gain help from a single sex organisation in anyway then good for them.

LOL - I love to provoke a

LOL - I love to provoke a response! Of course I want it all! And if society decides to organise itself in a way that means I can play that to my advantage then I will... Better than the grumpy women at women-only groups all berating men and blaming lack of success on some self-imposed and self-created "glass ceiling"

I am employed by the UKRC

I am employed by the UKRC which is the Governments lead organisation for the provision of advice, services and policy consultation regarding the under-representation of women in science, engineering, technology and the built environment (SET). In our experience, women’s networks can and do make a real difference to women’s progress in SET. Not only are these networks welcomed by women, but are also encouraged by many employers and professional bodies.

I run an organisation which

I run an organisation which is committed to increasing the number of women working and achieving in the UK's IT profession and as part of our activities we run a lot of networking events - http://www.womenintechnology.co.uk/previous-events. They are not women-only (in fact I'd love it if we could get more men coming along) but the majority of the audience is female and we choose topics that we think we will help our members to have as successful a technology career are possible. The women are often isolated at work and gain great benefit and connections by coming along to our events. However I always encourage them to network more widely within the IT community and to go along to a mix of events so that they use their networking time wisely. As from the comments above, some people enjoy women-focused events and some don't but isn't it good to have the choice? Within IT, women are very much in the minority (they only make up c20% of the UK technology workforce) so I think providing opportunities for those women to get together and network, share experiences and business contacts is a good thing. Thanks, Maggie

I belong to a number of

I belong to a number of networks, some women only and some mixed, some off line only, some on line only, some mixed.

I started networking with women only networks and moved on to the various other forms.

It was easier to start networking with other women. It is true that many women are or were in 'lifestyle' businesses designed to provide supplementary incomes, but many do move on from there and old friendships with 'start ups' are network conntacts with bigger businesses over time.

It is nice to be able to choose women or mixed networking. I find it hard to make myself heard at mixed events sometimes over the booming male voices - particularly if the acoustics are bad (which they often are).

I posted this last week but

I posted this last week but clearly it slipped off into cyberspace somewhere:-

I've been watching the comments with interest and now feel compelled to respond.

1230 The Women's Company sees its 8th birthday next month.

Around 10 years ago I was dragged screaming and shouting, by the roots of my hair – or so the story goes – to an all-women networking event. My friend (and subsequently my business partner) Penny Denby, invited me to a networking event for women in IT. I told her when invited, “No sorry, I don’t do coffee mornings, all women’s events”. What I hadn’t realised, until afterwards that I had been working in very female environments – adult education, the IT industry and a hospice, for the then latter part of my career. The reason I was still in “male working mode” or so I thought, was because I had worked with architects and quantity surveyors – both very male dominated professions prior to this.

Attending that networking event for women in IT was such a massive eye-opener to me – yes, I did go, as I thought it impolite not to. I was surprised, more shocked, how sharing everyone was, no matter where they were on the ladder of importance in their business. Snippets of business expertise being shared openly and freely with everyone. You need to bear in mind how long ago this was, apart from this group of women in IT there was nothing else around for women in business then. Chambers of Commerce were very male dominated and in my experience very closed to anyone unless you were able to “give them a job”! “Networking” was a rude work and to be avoided at all costs.

Penny and I continued to “network”, mostly (but not exclusively) at women’s events because of the web site contract she had at the time and because we enjoyed and benefited from it. We decided to share office space in the City and arranged to have lunch with those business women whose offices were nearby. We found that within 3 months we had around 20 business women meeting up with us – to share experiences, to build relationships, to grow and strengthen our businesses (and theirs) – to make money! As local Business Advisers we were asked to organise “something” for the business women in the Bromley area – we held a networking lunch, it was hugely successful. Two meetings later some women approached us to run networking meetings in their area which they wanted to head to heighten their business profiles.

Then it came to us! We weren’t the only women in business who benefited from networking with women. We had a need to grow our businesses, and so did they. We then established an interview and training programme, and the rest as they say is history. Genuine, organic growth by need and demand. Not bad for someone who “doesn’t do coffee mornings”!

The point is this. Like it or not, it is a fact that women do network differently to men. We are more open and more committed in supporting, building leads and recommending (referring) each other. But, where you network is all about choice. By the way, I thought long and hard about a substitute word for “networking” – there isn’t one. It does what it says on the tin – the purpose of effective business networking is to increase business revenue, notice that word “effective”. That is done through building mutually beneficial relationships. And women are so much better at building trusting, lasting relationships, but the guys are getting there! And please, don’t tell me that men don’t have their own networks, there have always been the “old boys' clubs"!

Lastly, come and try us out – you won’t find any hypocritical, bra-burning, men bashing conversations at 1230 TWC meetings – we’re all too busy “doing business”!

Andy, thank you for taking

Andy, thank you for taking the time to blog a response to this question. I appreciate it. I'm smiling because I deliberately used the term "gender specific" rather than "women's networks".

We could debate the existence of men's networks formal/ informal, social/ business. Perhaps another time. For now, I'd suggest that men's networks do exist, albeit embedded in other structures, such as sporting clubs. I was at the very lovely home of cricket last week, and I would suggest that the members' pavilion at Lord's currently functions as a men's network. Although I expect that will change...slowly.

You are right, of course, that the formal, professional, gender specific networks are mainly women's networks. In fact, I just searched for "Professional Men's Networks" and Google politely asked me if I meant "Professional Women's Networks". Point taken.

But here's the point - women's networks assume and reify the very thinking that created the problem they seek to address. That thinking is this: there are two genders. They behave differently.

I understand your point that women's networks allow women in male dominated environments to build confidence to go into a non-gender specific networking events. I also understand that the playing field has been uneven, as you say. As such, there is value in relying on a 'strategic essentialism' as the theorist Gayatri Spivak called it: deliberately calling into play a specific identity - in this case, gender - as a strategy to create a fair playing field.

However, I firmly believe that this is not enough.Strategic essentialism can only be truly successful if it is accompanied by a strategic denial of essentialism: deliberately not calling into play the very identity which is at stake; in this case, gender.

In other words, women's networks will be have reached true success when we no longer need them.

The ultimate aim would be to dissolve the need for gender specific networks because we have got past gender as a barrier in business. Are there any gender specific networks - either for women or men - that actively have this goal?

And, the problem with sharing

And, the problem with sharing the load in terms of contributing to the family finances is....?

Women only networking events are rarely more than opportunities for a new business opportunity that is applying diversification techniques and/or market segmentation methodologies.

The expectations they raise for those of us wishing to have more meaningful dialogues about the impact of structural oppression and how we can defeat it within the business world are therefore very limited. I have been to many of these types of events and found myself being lectured to by a man! Why not a woman with equivalent skills and experience seems to provoke a hostile response on so many occasions that now - I simply just ignore what's going on - decide who I want to seek out for future meets and deploy my time strategically. But it is extremely irritating to have to do this as I just end up feeling used and exploited - again!

On the down side - and depending which sector and region of the UK you are in I think there is a noticable rise in openly displayed discriminatory attitudes. I have a business that is exclusively for women and I have ceased attending other than "invite only" mixed gender networking events due to the amount of open hostility I experience from some men. This has included heckling, personal insults, mocking - exclusion from information sharing etc.

I have been in business for many years and have never seen it so bad. I equate this with the impact of the recession. So, I believe there is even more reason to start putting pressure on the so called "Womens Networking" events to stop pandering to the stereotypes and start being serious about their purpose. I don't mean that they should exclude women who may still be in a phase in their business where it is a method of contributing to the family income either. There are often very genuine, practical reasons behind their decision that are more about the restrictions they experience at certain points. But even if they aren't... do we have a right to judge them? This country needs to sustain a tax base and every little bit contributed helps us all.

Living in an unequal society affects everyone - men and women. None of us will be able to live happier and more fulfilled lives until there is a more level playing field.

This is exactly how I used to

This is exactly how I used to think as well. I love full competition and believe that you cannot be treated equally if you are whining that you need special treatment!

However, for the past 18 months, I have deliberately tried a new approach. I look at Women's groups as a niche group, like I look at an entrepreneur's group as a niche, and a professional association as another niche. They are all ways to extend my reach. I work almost exclusively with men, due to the gender make-up of the satellite and telecoms industry, so Women's groups bring me in contact with a new demographic that I can't access through my normal channels.

So far, the male-orientated networking events have had a stronger business focus and much, much less talk about personal matters. In contrast, the Women's groups have given me a faster return-on-investment through referrals.

Cathy from The Networking Workshop http://thenetworkingworkshop.blogspot.com/2012/03/but-you-only-play-with...

Thanks Cathy, Would you say

Thanks Cathy,

Would you say that your experience suggests that women's networks tend to be more mutually supportive to those dominated by men?

I do not have a broad enough

I do not have a broad enough experience to know if the women's groups are more mutually supportive, but it seems like it. With the men's groups, I definitely have to prove a direct benefit to the person that refers me, where with the women's groups, the message is passed-on without a direct personal benefit to the referrer. I'll keep an eye on this.

As of this week, and as a result of my networking-with-women, I have made a big career change and have become a professional networker, rather than a professional satellite consultant. Finger's crossed, but it seems like a good move!

Cathy from thenetworkingworkshop.blogspot.com

I think Cathy has hit the

I think Cathy has hit the nail on the head with "with the women's groups, the message is passed-on without a direct personal benefit to the referrer".

Women are much more natural, instinctive with their sharing and support. That's not to say that the guys aren't catching up on this, but in my experience over the past 10 years - it's our 10th birthday this year! Yay! women benefit greatly by networking together because we do network differently to the men. I don't advocate that women should networking exclusively with women, just that it's about choice.

Recently a 1230 TWC Member commented "For me the point of 1230TWC is that not all women are natural business networkers. Yes, we do like to talk to each other, but business networking is much more than that and we need an academy to learn and practice business networking – that is what 1230TWC provides. Then with the confidence it has provided we can launch out into the more general world if we wish. But we know we have 1230TWC to come back to. Women in business do have some different battles to deal with than men".

As I noted earlier on in this thread.....

The point is this. Like it or not, it is a fact that women do network differently to men. We are more open and more committed in supporting, building leads and recommending (referring) each other. But, where you network is all about choice. By the way, I thought long and hard about a substitute word for “networking” – there isn’t one. It does what it says on the tin – the purpose of effective business networking is to increase business revenue, notice that word “effective”. That is done through building mutually beneficial relationships. And women are so much better at building trusting, lasting relationships, but the guys are getting there! And please, don’t tell me that men don’t have their own networks, there have always been the “old boys' clubs"!

Lastly, come and try us out – you won’t find any hypocritical, bra-burning, men bashing conversations at 1230 TWC meetings – we’re all too busy “doing business”!

I'm sure you'll find this continues for you Cathy and good luck with your career change.

I do not have enough

I do not have enough experience to say that one type of network is better or more supportive than the other. I can comment that when men make referrals - and I am limiting this to my experience - they have to benefit from making the referral almost as much as the person that they are referring to benefits from receiving it. This means that they might be aware that I could assist someone, but the reference won't necessarily be made.

With women, so far, the referral seems to benefit the recipient more than the woman making the referral. This makes it easier to have your name passed along.

The reason that I have all of the qualifiers in my answer is that the satellite industry is quite aggressive, not at all a friendly place to be. I do not know if I am comparing apples with apples.

The difference is enough that I am shifting my career from being a satellite consultant to being a professional networker. Wish me luck!

Cathy

In my experience comparisons

In my experience comparisons of networks is a difficult thing to do because we as individuals are different, and businesses are different; combined the whole thing is different!

Statistics support yours and my experiences thus far Cathy, but I would not say one network against another is any better than any other, just that what suits some, doesn't suit others - they all have to be worked at. The success of networks is indicative of the need for networks.

The time of day plays a huge part in a networks appeal, eg very early morning tends to appeal to many trades, and lunch-time appeals to many businesswomen.

It's been a long time coming but at last a further 45% of businesses (non-gender specific) is waking up to the fact that face to face networking is essential to business http://goo.gl/930jj

Good luck Cathy, I look forward to seeing your continued findings....

I have been networking in

I have been networking in mixed gender groups and women on only groups for longer than I can remember.

As a sample I belong to or have been a member of 1230TWC, SisterSnog, The Womens Network, Best of Croydon, BNI, London Chamber, Ecademy and more. I have visited more networking groups than I can remember including SELBN, CafeLatte, as well as specialist HR and legal related networking events.

Each group has its own characteristic way of behaving. The more highly structured good for people who don't know what to do and are happy to do it in one particular way - that can feel supportive or unsupportive depending on our temperament.

Womens networking groups tend to have a less rigid structure and we find our way towards business without so many 'set pieces' during a meeting. That can feel more supportive for a new networker, but sometimes can be frustrating for 'old hands' who have their own way of doing things and want to 'get on with it'.

Wherever I go, I have made some great business contacts - and even some real friends. It take's time and it is worth while committing to regular attendance at particular groups rather than randomly popping into this and that. (though I do a bit of that too when exploring).

I used to say I enjoy the womens networks more but do more business in financial terms out of the mixed networking - now it is the same in financial terms and which ones I enjoy is not predetermined by the gender group it reaches out too. But I wouldn't miss my womens networks out of my diary. I love meeting new women networkers and seeing them and their businesses blossom as they get the hang of it.

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