Networking With the Opposite Sex–What Are Your Thoughts?

Frank De Raffele, Hazel Walker and I are working on our new book about gender and networking.  It discusses the difference between men and women in regard to how they network.

We have a REALLY short (two question) survey that we need as many people as possible to take. The purpose of the survey is to gauge how comfortable people are when networking with the opposite sex. If you have 30 seconds to spare, PLEASE take this survey (if you don’t have 30 seconds to spare, good luck with getting everything done–I don’t envy you :)).

The three of us are extremely grateful to all who participate in this survey as your input will help us a great deal.   Thank you!


23 thoughts on “Networking With the Opposite Sex–What Are Your Thoughts?

  1. Well, that is interesting. However it took a little bit of thought to make a generalization like that – I am personally extremely comfortable with just about anyone and have no issues right now with members of the opposite sex, though had you asked me this question 15 years ago, immediately after I left an abusive marriage, that answer would have been screamingly different. I’m not sure it’s quite so simple as your single question would lead you to believe – I think it has a lot to do with past and current personal relationships, how you were raised, your age (and the social expectations of your generation) and even the type of business you are in. One of my favorite ways to network is actually tag-team with a male friend who is in another industry – works well for us.
    I can’t wait to see what your results actually come out to be – and how you compile your data in the end!

  2. Networking with the opposite sex is vital. However, when I meet with women for networking purposes, I try to make a point to meet them in a public place. If I meet with them at my office I make sure someone else is there and the door is open. This serves everyone well. It keeps everything above board, honors my wife, and my guest.

  3. I donot see a woman or a man as such, Any chance to network and help or gain business is the aim .

    1. I agree with Geoff. I honestly don’t think about if it’s a woman or man I’m networking with. I suppose like Carrie said it’s a matter of your past and present situations. If a person has a history of bein unfaithful to their spouse, or the spouse is just the jealous type it’s probably best to stick with the same gender as much as possible.

      Me personally I’ve found that I network better with the opposite sex. I think because there is no gender competition.

  4. As a Brit, this seems to me to be a peculiarly American obsession, that two people of the opposite sex, unless they are married to each other, should avoid meeting or travelling together, because we don’t want even the meerest hint of possible impropiety. Should we be suspicious of two men meeting, because they might be gay and who knows what they might be up to?

    I guess it goes in the same bucket as peculiar gun laws, drink laws and employment laws. Anything does with guns and employee rights (or lack thereof). Nothing goes with drink or sex…

    Interesting also that you ask one question about the “opposite sex” and then ask for my “gender”. You did not offer the third option for gender, ie, “neuter”. 😉

    1. Graham, we did a much longer survey last year. This was a follow up question that we needed in comparison to one of the original questions.



  5. Wow! It looks like I stirred things up a little. Yes, the “hint of possible impropriety” is important. Let’s be honest, what I’m looking out for is ACUTAL impropriety. Besides, coffee at Starbuck’s is a little better than my office coffee, and I’m more likely to be able to cross-network in a public place. Each to his own.

  6. OK, just to give some clarification, this short (two question) survey is being used to compare answers on an issue that jumped out at us in the analysis of the data for the really big survey. It appears there might be a difference between what people think about how “they” feel about networking with the opposite sex and what they think other people feel about networking with the opposite sex.

    OK, it’s complicated. However, I appreciate all the ongoing responses (please pass this survey along on your social media). We are getting EXACTLY what we hoped for.



  7. I don’t hesitate to network one-to-one with the opposite sex. Frankly, I find that females naturally network all day long. We receive more word of mouth business through women than we do men. Men seem to be naturally predisposed to the task, while women to the relationship.

  8. Ivan: To your comment above, I think I understood the first survey question correctly. Yes, I think the “average” person is uncomfortable networking with the opposite sex. And yes, that is different from how “I” feel about networking with the opposite sex. I have to wonder however if all survey respondents will understand the survey question correctly or if they will rush through it so fast as to give you the “I” response as opposed to the “Other” people response.

    1. Thomas, I read it exactly that same way. The ‘average’ person…and had to remove myself from the equation. I’ve been trained by the best (Ivan and his troupe), so being uncomfortable is not in my ‘being’. However, it does take a moment or two to climatize to a newly formed relationship to figure out the other person’s energy and style.

  9. Given that women-only business networks exist here in the UK, it’s very possible (but not conclusive) that they support many women who only feel comfortable networking with other women. Does the fact that there are no obvious men-only networking groups mean that men are happy to network with both genders? Perhaps they’re members of the old-boy networks in the UK and don’t need formalised groups like the women do!

    1. Hi Lis, there are very few if any ‘men-only’ networking groups anymore. At one time, there were many. However, groups like Rotary which was once for men only, switched to mixed gender after a US Supreme Court decision making them open it up to women. Since then, most men-only groups have opened up their membership. I think this is a good thing. However, it is interesting to note that there are many “women’s” groups. Most of which in the US – do allow men to join but promote themselves as primarily for women.

      1. I’ve seen men networking at women’s networking events and often I see some of them attempting to network as if they are networking with men or it appears they are not present for point of the organization which is to promote women’s businesses. I’ve also heard men talk about the reasons for joining women based rietworking organizations. Often it isn’t about helping or supporting women in business, but being in a particularly interesting pond with fewer male competitors.

        I have seen men feeling very uncomfortable in women groups when they aren’t getting appropriate attention. And I have seen men make tremendous effort to be supportive of the women in these organizations. Their behavior is strikingly different. Through their generosity they garner more business and support. Those who are only interested in their personal business goals cut and run when they’ve fished the pond.

        To Lis’s comment about men being happy to network with both genders. Seems to me many men are clueless about how women network differently than men and they show it in their actions. I also see something different with the men in BNI who demonstrate the giver’s gain mentality.

  10. I have no issue networking with either sex however I will change my “networking style” accordingly. Actually that isn’t quite true. I change my networking style according to the type of person I am interacting with regardless of sex. ie..analytical, touch feely types, numbers, humor, etc. I try to find ways to connect on their level. If I’m interacting with a couple that changes the dynamic. I always engage both and as a realtor I feel it’s important to be respectful with my interaction with couples. Interesting to see the responses. Thanks Ivan for posing the question.

  11. G’day Ivan, Frank and Hazel, All the best with writing your new “best selling” book “Networking and Sex”. Really looking forward to it. I will read it with passion – pun intended! I love networking and it can really be fun – especially with the opposite sex 😉 Cheers, Pix

  12. As one of the earlier members of the old “NETWORK” (why did he change it to BUSINESS Network anyway? Sounds so limiting.), I can safely say that I can and will network with anyone I can speak with! How’s that? A good networker should do the same. If there is a problem between the sexes, the problem is with somebody else! If one networks properly , one can network with ANYONE! Who cares if someone just happens to be of the opposite sex?

  13. Hello Randy. We changed “The Network” to BNI (which stands for Business Network International) because we could not get a federal trademark on the name “The Network.” We were told that The Network was too general for a trademark. It was clear the organization was going to grow and the trademark became very important. That’s the reason for the change.

    Thanks for asking.


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