I'm often asked by men, "how do I approach a woman from a business perspective without her thinking that I am coming on to her personally?" The answer is, "it's a fine line and you must be prepared to walk it with confidence and finesse."
Women can be confusing creatures and often times we can be a challenge to get a good read on, especially for the male species. There really is no secret way in which to approach women about your products, service or business opportunity however there are definitely some do's and don'ts to keep in mind.
Be Professional: This would seem to be an obvious "no brainer" but sadly, it isn't always practiced and both genders can be at fault when it comes to lacking professionalism. It's important when approaching a woman to set the tone for the meeting right up front and to avoid sending out a "mixed message."
An opening line might be something like this: "I represent a rapidly growing USA based company and we're always on the look out for sharp, motivated professionals whom may be a good fit to assist our team, with the expansion currently taking place here in our local area." "I couldn't help but notice that, at a glance, you seem to have many of the qualities we are looking for in our potential business (choose one) representatives, partners, marketing executives." If she appears to be open or receptive to your approach... continue on with, "I would like to give you one of my business cards and exchange contact information with you so that I may send you some information about our company, my name is ____________________ by the way. (Smile and extend hand to shake hers)
The example above, is a great approach to use say on, the teller at the bank or a woman or man, for that matter that you met in a business setting, maybe a Chamber of Commerce meeting or Networking Mixer.
Communication is Key: Women and men have different communication styles and this can create confusion and miscommunications in a business setting. Women like to tell stories and scenarios, in order to get their message across. Women give details and ask lots of questions and they like to gather all of the information together before making a decision. Men, on the other hand are often "cut to the chase," skip the story telling... just get the job done type of communicators! So... patience is key here fellas.
If you're goal is to get this woman to purchase from you, partner in business with you or hand a chunk of money over to you - you're gonna have to communicate with her from her perspective! A woman will typically (there are exceptions to every rule) talk about things that are important to her, in a story telling or illustration style. For instance, her family, children, spouse or significant other, and her home and she will use these analogies to get her point across. Using a similar analogy will assist you to "close the gap" between you, so in other words, avoid the sports analogies here because chances are she isn't following the hockey teams or football scores.
You might speak in terms of something neutral and gender friendly, such as there is "blue skies ahead" or even "as simple as learning your A, B, C's!" Tell her stories of other successful women on your team or in your company, give her a true story of a dynamic woman she will be able to identify with. Better yet, introduce her to THAT woman as soon as possible, maybe with a 3-way conference, phone conversation.
Respect: Avoid coming across as condescending or disrespectful. I was in my fiancé's business office the other day, his secretary was out so I answered the phone by the company name and an added, "how may I help you?" The male on the other end of the phone line asked for the owner of the company and when I told him that the owner was unavailable, was there something I could perhaps help him with, he had this response, "no sweetheart, I need to speak to the man in charge!" You can probably imagine my immediate thought to his comment; it went something like this... "pompous jerk!"
Until you know someone really well and even then, you would still want to use caution in a business setting, before calling a woman names such as sweetheart or honey. In today's business world, its estimated that 50% of all small businesses are either owned by or run by a female so the fact the gentleman on the phone with me said he needed to "speak to the man in charge" was laughable really and incredibly disrespectful.
Avoid Making It Sound Or Look Like "The Good Ole Boys Club: Women like to associate with other women and they feel comfortable knowing that other women are involved with the products, services or business you are offering to them.
I have a good example to share with you on this one; recently a top income earner and the owner of a direct sales company (both males) phoned me to see if I would be interested in joining their successful business venture, as a marketer. As they were 3 way dialed over to me, I noticed they both were guilty of using such phrases as "our guys are kicking butt over here" and "our top earners are being taken out to a Nascar track and they get to drive some really amazing cars and on top of that, we just returned from a trip to Alaska and some outrageous hunting experiences!" I thought to myself, "wow, hunting and race car driving - gee, where do I sign up - NOT!" I'm sure that when they have conversations with other industry professionals whom are male, this would be an enticing dialogue designed to make them get excited to partner with this group of free-spirited, life living guys but honestly, it didn't do a darn thing to spark my interest in them, their company, products or the "manly" rewards they were offering their top producers!
Women want to hear about other women having success and opportunities that offer incentives or rewards for everyone, including the ladies.
Lead - Don't Boss: Great leaders, lead by example. They never ask someone to do anything that they, themselves, wouldn't do. Authentic leaders listen and learn, they realize and appreciate that everyone is unique and different. Leaders are able to set their own egos aside for the good of the "Team." Good leadership motivates people to achieve their highest level of accomplishment without fear of ridicule or rejection. Studies have shown that all people, men and women thrive in an uplifting, recognition based team environment. Create opportunities for women to show-case their talents and abilities within the team. Women love to belong and to feel valued, especially to a group, team, or family environment. They can be tremendous multi-taskers' and are usually good organizers.
In order to take your business to the pinnacle of success, remember to balance the male testosterone with the feminine energies of a goal oriented woman and then step back and watch the magic happen!