In a recent conversation with a friend who is CEO of a construction company, I explained how doing business with the government could potentially take her business to the next level. She shared her frustration at responding to RFP (request for proposal). She had bid on many over the years and each time, they were awarded to the same male owned businesses! She then blurted, “If only I could think like a man… I could have won some of those contracts!”
Hmmm, is she right? Do women need to imitate men to be more competitive in business? Should a woman ‘think like a man’ to be more successful in business? Maybe OR maybe not!
Can an Assertive Woman Get What She Wants?
While it is acceptable for men to be assertive; on the other hand, women who go after what they want without apologizing along the way are viewed as aggressive or worse, a witch (drop the ‘w’ and add ‘b’). So, how can women use this to their advantage?
- Be Firm: whether it’s a handshake or the price of your services! We’ve all done it before; lowered the price of our products or services for the sake of closing the deal or meeting the needs of a potential client. Avoid this behavior! By doing so compromise your expertise and integrity.
- Speak up: let your voice be heard. ‘Say what you mean… and mean what you say!’ Stand firm in your beliefs! When engaged in a discussion, ensure that others understand your message and are able to communicate any questions or concerns as appropriate.
- Play the Part. It is imperative that you look the part of a successful and self-assured entrepreneur. Whether meeting with a potential client or business partner, attending networking event or giving a speech, IMAGE is EVERYTHING! Give a firm handshake, establish eye contact and engage others.
Afraid to Take a ‘Chance?’ Odds of Winning… 50/50!
Men are encouraged to take chances. The unknown doesn’t scare them as it’s a part of doing business. Most women shy away from situations that are uncomfortable or daring.
To take advantage of this strength, it is crucial for women to evaluate, manage and take risk in business. Say you are faced with a challenge and pondering if it is worth taking a chance. Ask yourself:
- What is the worst thing that could happen if things went amiss?
- If it happened, how would you handle it?
- What positive things could you learn from this situation, regardless of the conclusion?
Life is full of chances! By embracing challenges and obstacles head on, lessons learned from them is well worth it!
Men vs Women in Networking… Which Gender is More Effective?
Men are very skilled at networking. They take full advantage on the golf course, during happy hours and at other informal settings. They cut to the chase and go from introduction to deal.
Women believe in the importance of ‘know, like and trust’ which eventually cultivate into business. They develop great relationships but don’t take advantage of their interpersonal or social strengths.
Statistics show that 70% of new business is generated from referrals from networking events. In a recent article, Nicole Williams, author of “Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success,” says, “Women tend to equate networking with “schmoozing” or handing out business cards. In reality, networking is about building relationships before you actually need them.”
While women have different strengths and communication styles than men, there are a few simple tips to help in getting the most BANG out of a networking event.
- Create a Mini Action Plan for Every Event. When attending an event, it behooves you to know who will be there. Take time to research the purpose of the event, attendees, presenters, vendors and businesses. Then you can decide who you want to connect with. Imagine meeting a potential client and acknowledge a recent award they received.
- Practice your Pitch. You will meet a lot of people and have the opportunity of introducing yourself and business. Make sure your message is clear and concise. Fine tune your elevator pitch to make the most of your conversation.
- Follow Up. Within the next week, make sure you follow up with e-mails, phone calls or a simple letter. The key is to connect with potential people that can be beneficial to your company. For most women, this is the easy part as they tend to be thorough with follow-up, delivery of promised information, or promptly scheduling of meetings.
In conclusion, it’s apparent that women and men speak different languages. Neither gender is all right or all wrong. So, it is not necessary for them to ‘Think like a man,’ rather; learn from what they are doing right!
Do women need to imitate men to be more competitive in business? Share your thoughts!