It seems pretty self-explanatory that your network can be hugely advantageous, and I’m certainly appreciating that in my career at the moment.
It is however not something that comes easily, with a recent study from Rotman revealing that networking makes some of us feel rather dirty.
Interestingly, a recent paper published by a team of INSEAD academics suggests that there are also distinct gender differences in how much we gain from networking.
The paper reveals that men tend to gain much more, financially at least, from their network than their female peers.
It showed that men tend to gain more, in terms of on the job performance boosts but also in terms of subjective evaluation by their peers.
The paper focused on the networking habits of financial analysts on Wall Street, with their alumni connections explored for links to better earnings per share over a 16 year period.
The authors measured the accuracy of earnings forecasts as a metric by which they can gauge the performance of each analyst, together with any recognition in the All America Research Team process.
When the connectivity of each analyst was explored, there appeared to be no real gender difference in the connections they had. It emerged that most analysts were connected by the ‘old school tie’ to around 25 percent of the companies they covered.
All connections are not equal
When the impact of those connections were assessed however, the men came out on top by some distance. The analysis revealed that connectivity with a company being analysed did improve the accuracy of the forecasts across the board, but it did so to a much larger degree for the men.
The difference was even starker when it came to how the market tended to react to the recommendations of each analyst. Being connected to a company would boost the impact of a male analysts ‘buy’ recommendation by 1.2 percent, with female analysts seeing no such boost.
What’s more, the connections also seemed to increase the chances of male analysts’ gaining recognition by the AA, but there was no such boost for their female peers.
Interestingly, the results appeared to start very early on in the analysts career, with this disparity in network value then setting the analysts off down very different career paths.
The findings chime with previous studies highlighting how men appear better able to ‘cash in’ on their network than women.
The results are particularly interesting as it is not caused by any visible difference in the size of networks maintained by each analyst, but rather how those networks are used.
It suggests that any gender bias is a very subtle one indeed. The study revealed, for instance, that when a female analyst was connected to another female, their analysis of that company improved by 2.5 percent. When it was a male-male connection however, the performance jumped by 4.7 percent, suggesting the old boys club is alive and well.