A woman once admitted to me that she worked “alone”, indicating that she was on her own amongst a whole office of men, and wasn’t getting ahead. This is a truism, as many corporate women have come to realize, particularly in the hedge fund world. Often, by design or inadvertently, such male-dominated workplace situations are squeezing the female constituency out of the equation, and both parties suffer as a result.
That same woman sheepishly asked me if it would be to her benefit to learn to play golf, since that’s what the guys do together to network. Not a bad idea. However, it’s not the only approach to penetrating the “boy’s club” and networking in settings other than conventional networking events. In fact, with minimal effort asserted in a few specialized areas of interest, you will begin to command respect and gain the confidence to seize the same opportunities afforded to men in the business world. Consider some favorites, which have worked well for me and countless other successful women.
In NYC, dining out is a sport for many, and it can be an even playing field with respect to gender. Fine-tuning your business dining etiquette, familiarizing yourself with the hottest NYC restaurants, getting a feel for modern cuisine, and treating yourself to a course in understanding wine can ultimately bridge the gap between you and the business networking scene.
It might sound like a deplorable task to those of us who don’t follow professional sports, but you should strongly consider skimming the newspaper sports section before you line the birdcage with it. If you’re up-to-date on the latest local sports news, you have no excuse not to be able to tap into any male-oriented discussion. It’s not like you’ll need to follow the games; just keep an eye on the standings, and you’ll never be left out of the conversation.
Use Your Poker Face
One way to think like a successful man is to partake in the traditionally male hobby of poker playing. Poker Prima Divas teaches women introductory poker skills, and equates those poker principles to the business world. Joining one of their sessions can be effective in growing your teambuilding, leadership and negotiation skills, and can double as an evening of fun and networking for you and a colleague or client. Check out the Poker Prima Divas website, and consider getting involved.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that not everything men enjoy doing is exclusively “male” in nature. Poke around and discover the other hobbies or interests of the men you work with, and then get creative. Visiting museums, attending the opera, walking in Central Park, and touring Manhattan are all popular, gender-neutral activities suitable for group participation or one on one meetings.