This is a pure ranting post (and bit too personal for my liking). But as the song goes off- a woman gotta do what a woman gotta do.
Recently, I came across a Quora post by a Korean tycoon who advised everybody to network, network and network- in order to grow business, to move corporate ladder, to be an influential person etc.
As per the man of my life, that I am broke and fat, do stem out from lack of networking on my part.
With this constant jabbing, at the start of this year, I was determined to get out and smash in networking scene. But last three months have taught me few not-so-pleasant facades about networking in India.
Why networking in India so ambiguous?
For starter, I think the term networking had only recently imported into India Inc. psyche from West- unless you mix up the rampant boot-licking, nepotism and bowing down to every whim-and-fancy of authority, which we have been witnessing in public sector since childhood, with networking.
Networking needs the right ecosystem. How can we network when professors play favoritism in class, boss hates you because you are smarter or your father doesn’t want you to remain outside of house after 7 PM?
The Last part is true for Indian women at large (or that my personal experience tells me). And who doesn’t know that real networking happens only after office hours?
So here, what I experienced (and left bloodied) back-to-back in my serious networking attempts in last 2 months-
Be ready to take on creepy men
Jolly, good Mathematics teacher used to teach us in some a tutorial centre (I would rather forget about it), as a part of an entrance exam preparation ( I will regret the rest of my life for taking it up) many moons ago.
Cut to March, 2017:
I was full of new-found zeal regarding networking. Chased him down in Facebook, sent him FR and got promptly accepted. Who could have been the better guinea pig for my networking experiment than an ex-guru?
Our first chat session went well in exchanging pleasantries. In second session, he inquired about my marital status.
I answered non-affirmatively and was anticipating a barrage of lectures incorporating typical SE Asian pearls of wisdom- spinsters are crazy, ovary dries-up in 30s so get married, get knocked up and start procreating ASAP etc.
Rather, our conversation took an unexpected turn –
He:” Oh so you are not married? That’s really good to know. I was also married once but got divorced after few months. Now I hate the institution. It’s archaic, cagey, mad…”
Me: “Yes. You are very much right. Anyway Sir, what are you into these days?” (Till then I was nursing a thin hope of veering the conversation into some professional territory).
He: “I am into independent consulting-and-teaching. Anyway, let’s forget about work for now. And don’t call me Sir. It has so much colonial insinuation. Call me by my name instead. Ha-ha.”
He: “Okay, now tell me one thing: How do you satisfy your ****** desire? You are not married after all.”
And I was like -whaaaaaat?
My first serious attempt at networking landed me in a virtual trouble. I got rid of it by faking stupidity and spouting some feminism jargons. He promptly signed off.
It seems men-desperate-to-get-laid-even-with-long-lost-and-then-found-disciples don’t like quotations from Maya Angelou and Gloria Steinem.
Stupid Moral of the Story #1: I hate to say it but there are some serious over-achieving, premium-degree boasting male predators in the garbs of teachers out here in our society. They are nothing like Terence Fletcher or John Keating.
2. Bear with- “You scratch my back and I will scratch yours”
I used to work with a client (X) whom I really liked a lot. She was considerate and used to clear all my payments in time (as a freelancer, the biggest virtue I may expect in a client).
It was such a blissful co-ordination that I began to think in the line of Rick from “Casablanca”- “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”.
I was itching to request her to pen down a recommendation for me in LinkedIn or spread some good words about me among her network. But then shit hit the fan.
Cut to 1st Week of April, 2017
I got a call from an unknown number. Once I picked up the phone, a stranger voice boomed from the other end:” Hi, I am Y, the sister of X, she gave me your number. Is it the right time to talk to you?”
Warily, I said- yes.
The conversation went like this-
Y: “So, how interested you are in securing your future?”
Y: “Okay. See I work for a bank and we are launching an amazing health insurance policy…” And right then my head started throbbing.
Now, I hate getting cold-called. But the abhorrence manifolds when it’s done by my client’s sibling.
In East, we are taught from childhood not to say “no” directly. But that day I did the blasphemous. I said “No” and she cut the line quite angrily.
My payment got delayed for that month. X got extra nit-picky with my work for few days. After getting the money out of her through much coaxing, she stopped communicating with me.
SMOTS 2: Networking is double-edged sword in India. It doesn’t stop if you only take your client to coffee dates or send Christmas wishes. Get ready to please her extended family as well.
Sigh. So many things to learn. So little time.