Which gender reigns supreme in the world of online professional networking? According to new data from LinkedIn, it's the men—both in the United States and across the globe.
The reason: According to Nicole Williams, LinkedIn's connection director and author of Girl on Top, women tend to equate networking with "schmoozing" or handing out business cards. "In reality," she says, "[networking] is about building relationships before you actually need them."
To declare a winner, LinkedIn developed an "online professional networking savviness ranking," a formula that examines the ratio of connections that men have versus those of women, and the ratio of male members on LinkedIn to female members.
LinkedIn also sliced the data by industry, surfacing some interesting tidbits. In female-dominant industries, such as cosmetics for example, it's the men who, once again, beat out the women in online professional networking. According to LinkedIn, they're the ones sending out more invitations to connect and they have larger networks.
Other top industries in which men are savvier online professional networkers include medical practice; hospital and healthcare; law enforcement; and capital markets.
[Want more LinkedIn tips, tricks and analysis? Check out CIO.com's LinkedIn Bible.]
On the flip side, in male-dominant industries such as tobacco and ranching, female professionals are savvier networkers than their male counterparts. Other industries in which females dominate networking include alternative dispute resolution; alternative medicine; and international trade and development.
LinkedIn data analysts say this could be because women have to work harder to break into male-dominated industries, and vice versa.
A few areas in which men and women were equally as savvy: market research; media production; dairy; individual and family services; and paper and forest products.
Here's what you can do to increase your "savviness ranking," according to LinkedIn:
1. Prepare before events. Before you attend a conference or networking event, review where other attendants work, what position they hold, their tenure at the company and if you have connections in common. Also, be sure your own LinkedIn profile is complete with your work history, education and skills so others can learn about you as well.
2. Move beyond your networking comfort zone. While LinkedIn recommends that your network be made up of at least 50 connections that you know, it also recommends actively seeking new ones, such as by participating in LinkedIn Groups. Seek out groups based on what you're passionate about so you can meet professionals who share your interests.
3. Give kudos to others. LinkedIn cautions that networking should not be solely about what you can get from others. Instead, treat your stream of connections' updates as your professional dashboard. If you see that a connection just got promoted or landed a new client, send them a message to congratulate them to start some dialogue.
Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and Web 2.0 for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at firstname.lastname@example.org