I mentioned earlier that I spent a few days at the Social Media Marketing World conference. This conference has a strong networking component and I took full advantage of the opportunity to talk with as many people as I could manage.
Since I am a people watcher, I couldn’t help making a few quasi-scientific observations about the conversations happening around me. To make it easy I categorized the conversations simply as Woman to Woman (W2W), Woman to Man (W2M), and Man to Man (M2M).
Here’s what I observed:
Woman to Woman (W2W)
Women introduced themselves and immediately began searching for interests that each shared. Contrary to stereotypes, women didn’t talk about kids, rearranging furniture or fashion. Instead, I found that women asked probing questions about how the other woman felt.
- “Do you like the conference?
- What’s your favorite part?
- Did you come with anyone you know?
- What do you do? Do you like it?
It seemed to took a few minutes to build rapport before the woman decided if they wanted to continue the conversation. I rarely saw a business card exchanged. More likely, if two women hit it off, they teamed up to patrol the networking room together.
In general, these interactions were relational.
Man to Man (M2M)
Men introduced themselves and quickly looked for an opportunity to size-up the other guy. For example, I found myself looking for clues about what they other guy did. I put casually dressed slightly awkward men into the developer and creative group. Sports coat wearing, starch shirt folks in the business development bucket. I tailored my approach based on these initial impressions.
The most popular question for men was “What do you do?”.
The next couple of questions helped the men clarify the job and status of the other. Networking with men was easy because my name badge showed I was a “Speaker” which helped me clear the “credibility” bar faster. The third question was almost always “Can I get your card?” The end.
These interactions were transactional.
Woman to Man (W2M)
These conversations were a complex ballet of give and take. Women seemed to intuitively understand that the man wanted to complete a quick transaction following a specific path: Tell me who you are, what you do, and finish by giving me your card.
Men, on the other hand, also understood how to engage without looking like a single-minded drone. They asked a few more follow-up questions. They focused on the women without looking over her shoulder. Although the conversation ended with a male-friendly card exchange I was still fascinated by how each sex adapted to the new dynamic.
I would describe these interactions as a hybrid with a tilt toward the transactional.
So who is better at Social Media?
I’m finishing Gary Vaynerchuk’s third book “Jab Jab Right Hook.” In his book, Vaynerchuk observed that the best social media practitioners start with a “Jab” or offer interesting and relevant information that engages the reader at an emotional level.
The Jab is meant to establish rapport. Vaynerchuk believes that stringing together a series of jabs “softens” up the reader leaving them open for the Hook.
The hook is the offer to sign-up or buy. The hook rarely works without the Jab Jab. Vaynerchuk’s observation is helpful.
Applying “Jab Jab Hook” to my observations prompts me to give women an edge. For the most part, women seem to intuitively understand the power of the Jab. Men, you guessed it, love to Hook.
So when it comes to building trust, camaraderie, and connection, women, by nurture and/or nature have the tools to be effective. Men have the same tools, but nurture and/or nature tends to push us toward the familiar transactional ground.
I’m not a social scientist or anthropologist but my observations prompted me to be aware of my role in each conversation. I’m learning to jab a bit before I hook. How about you?