Just a couple of weeks ago, I had an experience I’m not too egotistical to admit was….scary and uncomfortable, to say the least. I attended an event made up of largely tech start-up CEOs – I thought, “Wooooohooooo! These are my people. I get to meet people who are doing what I’m doing, finally!” I was jazzed. I prepped my pitch, my elevator speech, I had my smart ideas to run by them and big questions to ask. I walked in the room, jacked up and ready to go and suddenly, my stomach dropped. Standing in this room were hundreds….of men.
For the first time since leaving my job to enter the tech start-up world, I realized (truly never thought of this before) that for the first time in my life, here I stood, in the middle of a male dominated industry. This was both an “a-ha” and a “duh” moment for me. But suddenly, I realized something: I am a woman who connects regularly and with a majority of women. Of course, I have many great men in my network, but all of them were added through my comfortable time in female dominated events and industries.
So there I stood, unaware of how to approach these circles of men all around me. Can I do what I’d normally do at a networking event comprised of mostly women? Because in that situation, I’d stroll up, stretch out my hand and inject myself into the group. I’d tell a funny story or ask thought-provoking questions, and I’d be in. Suddenly, my palms were sweaty and I wasn’t sure what to do. Admittedly, I did nothing. I decided now was not the time to network, now was the time to observe and learn, which I did.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve scoured the interwebs to provide to all of you (and first and foremost, to ME!) the best advice I could find on how to network with men, especially in situations like the one I encountered recently. Because I’m not too egotistical to admit I don’t know anything about this. But apparently, The Glass Hammer does. Author Melissa J. Anderson brings us, “Hunting and Gathering: Networking with Men.” Here, she unpacks the way in which men network, the differences in the networking styles of men and women, and what women can learn about networking by examining how men do it. It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it. I know I’ll be taking these tips and great pieces of knowledge with me on my next “all male” networking excursion. Bring it on, dudes!