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Surprise! Men Are Better Networkers

by Jun 22, 2011, 9:11 am ET

Men are better online networkers than women? True, says LinkedIn.

It may fly in the face of other surveys, but LinkedIn insists that men are savvier networkers when it comes to their participation on the global business networking site and when their number of connections are taken into account.

“Women,” explains Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s Connection Director, “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.”

Well now, just a couple weeks ago ComScore said women in five of the biggest European countries — France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom — spent more time on social networks than men. And it didn’t matter if they were 15 or 50. In every age grouping the women were ahead.

See what I did there? I compared ComScore’s time online in Europe to LinkedIn’s global counts of men, women, and their total connections. Different measures.

Getting closer to an oranges-to-oranges comparison, Rapleaf, a data analysis firm, found that women had more friends and deeper relationships than did men on social sites. The study came out in 2008, so its findings are dated, but more recent reports tend to confirm them.

Pew just released a report on who uses social media, which found that 56 percent are female, a gain of three points since 2008. On Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace women are more plentiful by far than men.

But, when it comes to networking on LinkedIn, men are way ahead of women; 63 percent participation by men vs. 37 percent for women, says Pew, which did the counting last fall.

With that kind of discrepancy, it’s no wonder that LinkedIn’s own data showed men to be the savvier business networkers. That holds true even in areas where women might be expected to dominate.

Take the cosmetics industry. LinkedIn found even though women outnumber men, it’s the men who are the savvier networkers.  Mary Kay — yes indeed, the cosmetics company with the pink everything branding — is a “very male savvy company,” LinkedIn reports.

HR, a female-dominated occupation, is another male networking surprise. In the U.S. and in Australia, France, Germany, India, New Zealand, Spain, and the U.K., men were found to be the savvier networkers.

On the other hand, in the tobacco industry, it’s just the other way around. Women are the better networkers.

LinkedIn speculates the minority sex has to network harder than the dominant sex to break into those industries.

Overall, concludes LinkedIn, “Globally and in the U.S. men are savvier online professional networkers than women.”

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Ken Schmitt

    Great article but I to your point of comparing oranges to oranges, I would love to know how LinkedIn defines “savvy networkers”! Is it the number of LI groups they participate in, the # of status updates, the avg number of connections…would love to hear your thoughts.

    Ken Schmitt
    President, TurningPoint and LinkedIn trainer

  • Colin Mathieson

    I am not surprised that men are better represented on LinkedIn yet other stats suggest that women make more use of social networking. The main reason both are true is that the sites are used very differently. Actually we don’t regard LinkedIn as a social network at all, more as a business tool, which is quietly morphing into the world’s largest job marketplace. There is very little that is social – for instance, none of the people I know on LinkedIn would dream of putting their latest car purchase or their baby news on LinkedIn. My consultants get annoyed just hearing about what books people are reading in the digests – too much information folks! Similarly many contacts on LinkedIn are not friends or even acquaintances, but people who may be useful for future career or employment opportunities.

    As such I think that the self promotion aspect of LinkedIn is used more pro-actively by men and we certainly get a lot more men wanting to link to our consultants than women, especially in IT, business change, accounting and finance.

    Facebook on the other hand seems like pure social media, it is the site that my consultants use to bare their lives to their friends. It is useful to use to cross check impressions about candidates but we don’t use it for sourcing, and quite frankly some of what I have seen on candidates sites would have been better left to the imagination. I suspect that the socialization aspect strikes a slightly stronger note with women than men and this, combined with the fact that Facebook has close to 5 times the number of users than LinkedIn (about 500m vs just over 100m) may explain why overall social media is seen as being used more by women than men. Obviously I have too much times on my hands so back to work (after I’ve logged into Facebook?)