By Cindy Krischer Goodman
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As women in business, is it ever appropriate to mix business with pleasure? Columnist Cindy Krischer Goodman takes a look at how some professionals are advancing their business interests and their personal lives at the same time.
Before leaving a networking event, Jeff Tockman’s former girlfriend circled back to say goodbye and handed him her business card. When, in a flirty way, she urged him to call her, Tockman decided to ask her out.
Meeting potential partners has never been easy, and even as busy professionals are turning to online dating sites, another option is gaining ground: networking for business and love at the same time.
Although 1 in 10 Americans now use online dating platforms, the vast majority of relationships still begin offline, according to Pew Research Center, which studied 2,252 adults age 18 and older in spring 2013. Of the Americans who have been with their spouse or partner for five years or less, 88 percent say that they met their partner offline, and only 5 percent who are currently married or in a long-term relationship met their partner online.
“Online dating has become a more culturally acceptable way of trying to meet someone, but not every one likes it,” says Aaron Smith, a researcher for Pew Research Center. “There are a lot of approaches, and different ones work for different people.”
For Tockman, 44, who runs business and social-networking events in Boca Raton, Fla., combining the two activities makes sense.
“If you are both interested in advancing your business, it’s an opportunity to meet someone who you might have something in common with,” he says. “I tell them to come with business cards and focus on asking and listening.”
Most professionals network to build business and want to meet people, which can make a reluctant dater feel more comfortable about mingling. Fort Lauderdale, Fla., publicist Kerry Phillips, a widow for four years, wants to date again. She says going to a networking cocktail party to drum up business feels less stressful than going to a singles event: “I’m not going in thinking I’m there to find a date or a life partner. The pressure is not there. I’m going in to build business, and if I hit it off with someone, that’s a bonus.”