Social media is helping women become more successful networkers than men and they will only get better, said a leading Indian PR executive.
Jaideep Shergill, CEO and founder of Pitchfork Partners in Mumbai, said shifting attitudes to how people communicate are allowing people, and particularly women, to network more comfortably and therefore more effectively.
"There are always limitations about what you can say, how to network, but you don’t necessarily need to work within boundaries," he said. "The internet, particularly mobile internet, is breaking those barriers. People are not inhibited anymore; they are networking in their own way."
Shergill, previously CEO of MSL in India and founding member of Hanmer & Partners, added: "You can get together all sorts of eclectic and esoteric people to talk and build networks, and it’s fun. It’s helping people get over their shyness."
Such shyness is often cited as a greater issue for women than men in the traditional networking world of meeting face-to-face and exchanging business cards.
Several female delegates at the Break the Ceiling/Touch the Sky summit in Singapore yesterday highlighted confidence issues as a possible reason for men’s greater networking success.
But Shergill, addressing the mostly female audience, said this preconception was being turned on its head by social media.
"Women are much smarter networkers," he said, pointing to what he said were predominantly male methods of networking, such as going out drinking, as "not very useful".
"[In the near future] women will be far better at networking than men. Other than LinkedIn, women use every other social platform much more effectively than men. Women are more active on social media than men are now," Shergill said.
He said a great misconception of networking is that it is all about immediately getting business or something material out of a new relationship, and people put themselves under significant pressure to do just that.
"The best networking is about social skills, sharing, learning, adding value and paying forward," Shergill said. "Everything isn’t about you trying to build a relationship and getting something back instantly. It can take years. You have to give more than you get, and there is no short-term solution."
The summit was organised and hosted by House of Rose Professional.