Blog: Women’s Exchange of Washtenaw

Concentrate gets in touch with its anima. We've invited five local women, all movers and shakers, to weigh in on what it means for them to do business in the new economy. It's in recognition of the Women's Exchange of Washtenaw's May 15th annual forum, "Now We're Talking".

Post 1: Carrie Hensel - Do Women Really Do Business Differently Than Men?

I have many qualities that some might consider "manly." I know the difference between a running back and a linebacker. I know how to fly fish. I can grill a steak to a perfect medium-rare. I can pitch a curve ball. And my handshakes are always firm. But when it comes to business, I’m all woman.

Now I know what you’re saying – "Oh, come on. Business is business. You don’t really believe that men and women do business differently, do you?"

And to that I reply, "Why yes I do!"

In many areas of business, women and men do things in similar ways - we create strong company visions, inspire our teams, market, sell, negotiate deals, manage finances, and adapt our products and services to our target market's needs. But there a few places where I think we do things differently…

Relationship Building – It's Who You Know & Trust:

For many men, they go to networking events, meet new contacts, collect business cards, and move on to the next person. They talk about the Lion’s new quarterback or Verlander’s recent no-run, no-walk seven-inning gem. For women, it’s important that we get to know each other. Sure, I want to know what you do in your job, but I also want to know more about you. What’s stressing you out? What fires you up? Once I get to know and trust you, I’m more likely to either do business with you directly or connect you with a sales referral, service provider, or potential collaborator.

Collaboration Versus Competition:

For some of my male colleagues, business is all about winning. They want to beat their competitors, and they’d never consider sharing info with the "enemy." 

Call me "girlie," but I approach business in a much less competitive and more collaborative way. I talk freely with my competitors because I know we’re probably going through the same business struggles. For competitive people, sharing all that personal and confidential information probably sounds like crazy talk, but because I have good relationships with my so-called competitors, we frequently team up on projects, send each other referrals, and even help each other improve our companies.

Leadership – Down with the Supreme Leader:

Before I started my own company, I worked for a global corporation where I grew accustomed to command-and-control style leadership. To climb the corporate ladder, I felt I had to adopt a “masculine” management style where I made autocratic decisions and directed people’s performance.

After we started our company and hired a team, I realized that I did not want to be the “Supreme Leader” nor was it good for the growth of our company.  I learned that true leadership is about listening, teaching, nurturing, coaching, and always trying to improve my own leadership skills. Taking the team approach has led to more business success because when we all talk, listen and share ideas, we come up with better ideas and more quickly find answers to problems.

Plus, life and business are just more fun with a great team by my side.

Carrie Hensel co-founded Inner Circle Media in 2001. Since then Carrie's titles have included Lead Designer, Director of Creative Endeavors, Queen of Networking, and Goddess of Marketing and Sales. Inner Circle Media provides web development, graphic design, and marketing services to clients on a local and national level.

In 2008, Carrie co-founded the Women’s Exchange of Washtenaw (WXW) and is Co-President of the organization. Carrie serves on boards and committees for the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce and the Ann Arbor Art Center. She is a Past President of the Board of Directors for the New Enterprise Forum. In 2006, the Ann Arbor Business Review honored Carrie with its Most Influential Women in Business Award. She holds degrees in Chemistry (Albion College) and Fine Art (University of Michigan).