This is a great article from the HBR which looks into why female champagne salespeople / growers consistently obtained higher returns than their male counterparts over a 17 year period.
I would highly encourage you to read the original, but the crux of the article deals with how women found a better, more efficient, way to do business despite being a minority in the industry.
In short, it all came down to women empowering one another via their own informal social network. "We found that female growers were able to charge systematically higher prices than male growers for grapes of the same quality. The difference might seem small (a premium of just 1% to 2%), but for an average grape seller that would translate to more than 2,500 euros annually. Moreover, most Champagne growers are relatively small operations employing an average of about three employees. Thus an additional 2,500 euros is not trivial."
Whilst the men habitually guarded their industry knowledge to get ahead, the women, conversely, shared theirs with their female counterparts in a bid to aid one another's progression, despite the odds massively stacked against them.
This story really reinforces the concept of us thinking about who in our networks can be of use and how we can share knowledge in a more targeted fashion to achieve more. Moreover, this example reinforces the belief that the sharing of valuable knowledge has real, long-term benefits.
If you are giving away something of value to a select number of trusted people (perhaps sending the info directly), then that individual is left feeling indebted to you and this means a little later on, they will be much more open and willing to engage with you, help you out and maybe even buy from you. The more this process is repeated, the stronger the effect.
As Dan Connors writes here, "Good acts of reciprocal giving truly help the other person and their organisation. Even though you stand to gain from the exchange in the future, the other person will gain as well. Reciprocity strengthens relationships and networks."
This concept is valid in every business or industry, not just when selling bubbly. The key takeaway for me is that anyone, despite being in a perceived inferior market position, can achieve superior returns to their competition through leveraging both the power of their networks and the knowledge which they hold. Give it a go and see what comes back your way.
As such, it appears that the male grape growers in Champagne, France have much to learn from their female counterparts about the importance of social networks to increase the competitiveness of their businesses