Blog to support the book "Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs" by Kristen Fischer

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why Doing Business Like a Girl Isn’t So Bad
By Kristen Fischer

I recently talked to a client of mine who asked me how I keep tabs on my customers. He was concerned about giving clients a first draft then waiting weeks to hear back from them. I agreed that it can be frustrating to wait on clients when you want to get something wrapped up.

My first thought was that he simply needed to follow up more. Then I realized that there are people in business who don’t think to do things like that. And then I thought about the differences between men and women—and how they handle business. Did this client of mine just approach things differently because he was a man? Could be.

It’s not a shock that the battle of the sexes exist. In general, men can be more upfront while women can use their emotional side to make business decisions. Neither are right or wrong…they just are. There are pros and cons to each style.

So while following up with a client may not be a “male” or “female” thing to do, and just a good business practice, I want to explore some characteristics that are generally of the female nature that can improve your business.

Reiterate things. While our significant others may call us nags, every smart business woman knows that communication is key—and sometimes, things need to be repeated. It’s not a bad idea to confirm details and verify things with a client. You won’t be nagging, either, because it’s business (but don’t go overboard because than you can turn into a pester). In business, this is known as the art of communication and practicing is always in style.

Get personal—a little. I wouldn’t say women are better relationship-builders than men, but they do have a knack for personal details. That’s why making an effort to be professional yet personal works so well for them. I try to establish that sort of relationship with clients by letting them know not-so-intimate details of my life that can be used as conversation-makers. Things that include my ongoing home improvement quest or passion for kayaking. For example, If I know that a client has a big weekend planned, I’ll make the extra effort to send them well wishes in a Friday afternoon email.

Focus on the details. Men and women can both be very focused. But in this sense, I’m talking about being focused when it comes to the “extras,” such as sending a thank-you note or remembering Administrative Assistant’s day for your bookkeeper. While frilly pink paper isn’t the norm for many gals, they do add extra touches to their work—try a personalized folder to deliver client work or a handwritten holiday card. These things go a long way to forge better relationships with clients, which women generally excel at.

Dress sharp.
While men and women alike have fashion sense, I know women in the creative industry that don’t consider jeans the norm for a business meeting—and that professionalism makes a difference (especially for freelancers that rarely dress up due to the laidback lifestyle). Looking appropriate and pulled together puts your business at a professional advantage, which is always good.

Weigh decisions. Even though the age-old debate over pumps or slingback shoes can be a little tiresome, women are smart decision-makers. Most women aren’t reckless with choices and tend to evaluate their options more carefully—yet at the same time can take savvy risks. So while you don’t have to drag out every option, it’s good to put on your female thinking cap every once in a while to think things through when it counts.

Think I’m sexist? Nope. An upcoming post will include tips on how doing business like a guy can be beneficial!

link | posted by Kristen at 1:56 PM |

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