Here’s what I have learnt as a woman business networker and entrepreneur in India:

  • If you really need something done and will need someone’s help, pick up the phone, give them a call and ASK. If you write them an e-mail, your chances of success are automatically reduced by 50%. Not everyone in India has time to check e-mail and even if they do, e-mail communication is not taken seriously by a majority of people.
  • Be forthright and let them know how exactly you would want them to help you. If they have the time and the ability to help you, they will. Very rarely will you find someone in India who will say “No, I can’t help you.” because Indians truly believe that if they put their minds to it, nothing is impossible. I have had complete strangers refer business to me because I asked them to.
  • If you are a woman and are going for a business meeting, dress professionally and avoid skimpy clothes – by Indian standards, a skirt in itself [ whatever the length ] is not advisable. If you’re wearing Western clothes, wear a shirt and trousers and if the buttons on your shirt are far apart, please put a safety pin in between otherwise you’ll have people staring south of your face. Indian are very unabashed when it comes to staring.
  • Try to make friends. How do you normally converse with friends? Even when you’re talking about serious work, there are some words that you use, which make the conversation casual. Learn some Hindi words – the moment you put a smile on the other person’s face, you’ve ensured that they will remember you.
  • Most Indians love to talk. Let them. When you do get a chance to talk, depending on what the other person was talking about, extend the conversation. It might not necessarily be about work. In a lot of meetings, sometimes, work never gets talked about because people in that meeting are first building relationships. If they are not comfortable making small-talk to you, there isn’t going to be any business.
  • Pick up that phone.
  • If you do send an e-mail, follow up with a phone call informing the e-mail recipient that you have sent the e-mail :).
  • If its possible, eat a meal instead of going for a boring boardroom meeting.
  • If you are meeting someone who has children, ask them about how their kids are doing. Indians love boasting about their children.
  • If you are doing business with an Indian who is now settled abroad, they will be more professional in terms of respecting your time and you. In India, it’s quite normal if someone makes you wait before they actually meet you – no matter what the scheduled meeting time. But if you’re non-Indian then your chances of meeting on schedule are higher than if an Indian is meeting an Indian.
  • In India, networking works in all spheres of life – whether you need a plumber or a husband or a business partner, word-of-mouth is king. If you do make a mistake, the best way to get it over with is to acknowledge that you screwed up and that you’re sorry. If you deny it, on the face of it you might escape a bad reputation but the gossip mills in India work overtime and before you know it, everyone in business circles will know that you screwed up and did not own up.
  • While more and more professionals in India are getting into online business networks, they sign-up either because someone told then that it’s the latest trend/rage/snob thing to do or because they genuinely believe in the potential of the internet and online business networking. Most will be in the former category and will actually never really use the platform unless they lose their job or want a great candidate. It would be easier to get in touch with such people if you just call up their company’s board number and ask for them instead of sending them an introduction via LinkedIn, for example.
  • Most of the points above might be more relevant to the small-business owners and individuals doing business in India and not so much for large corporations and established companies. Some points above might also be relevant in general business situations. There’s no offense meant to anyone, these are things I’ve experienced as I’ve done business in India and with Indian clients.

    12 comments

    1. i am very impressed by the blog u have sent.

      Business Networking in the Indian Scenario.

      i am also interested in the idea u have given and i am looking forward from u to give me some tips on how to do this type of business more.

      waiting for ur earliest reply.

      best regards,

      suganthi.

    2. Thanks Suganthi, I appreciate your comment and thanks for stopping by.
      I am not sure I understand what kind of tips you need – please let me know and I’ll be glad to help if I can!

    3. Hi Naina,

      as you have mentioned in your last para about the people who visit/sign up blog sites…well i was one of the former one…well i was just browsing through and i get to see your page, accidentally, offcourse!!! ha ha ha…well your tips were upto the point and is really helping me out in my first job as well…thanx for putting your experience, i am sure i have really benefitted from this. now i dont just laugh at the bloggers as i usually used to do…but now started taking them seriously…

      Kudos to Naina…

      i am looking forward to more additions from you…

      bye take care…

    4. Hy Naina,

      I just loved your insights about Networking + India !

      Mr. Brayer, Who is an expert in this field, wrote an interesting post regrading the “10 commandments of networking” –
      http://www.opherbrayer.com/the-10-commandments-of-networking.html
      http://www.opherbrayer.com/blog/downloads/10_Commandmants_of_Networking.pdf

      I think everyone needs to establish his own rules of networking – this skill is crucial to develop a better career and bigger achievements.

      Best regards,
      A.B

    5. Hey Himanshu, Thanks for the insight – I appreciate that you stopped by – it’s always cool to hear someone else’s experience and point of view – blogging can otherwise seem to be a very self-centered activity 🙂 Cheers!

    6. hey, If you are a woman and are going for a business meeting…………. is so true… when i wear a normal shirt itself i find my colleague staring at me, i sometimes rush to wash room to check. but nothin bad is seen, and the look that is so killing when they watch each and every gal , good or bad, fat or thin walking pass by them that I actually start thinking should I take my revolver from my bag and shoot them on their forehead or should I ride a horse like bandit queen with the black tilak on my forehead and aim their body, ahh!!

    7. Hi Naina,

      Interesting blog. Are you based in Delhi ? If so would like to invite you to be a part of the WomenNBusiness forum which was started about 10 months ago. Supported by Tie we are a group of women both entrepreneurs and professionals ( the number is growing every meeting ) who meet once a month. Our aim is to nurture, mentor and grow knowledge through our interactions. Do drop me a line.

      Cheers,
      Sudha

    8. Hi Sudha, So nice of you to drop by and let me know about WomenNBusiness.
      Unfortunately I am based out of Mumbai – I do visit Delhi once in a while so maybe when I’m there next time, then we can meet up – it would be a pleasure.
      And when you do start the Mumbai branch of WomenNBusiness, I’d be glad to be a part of the same!

      Thanks Sudha, please be in touch!

    9. Hi,

      I would like to know what is it a user is looking for on internet to establish a business network.

      I serouslyy fail to understand why do we need internet to do so and what facilities a net can provide us which we can’t get otherwise….

    10. Dear Naina,

      Excellent insight. I would be keen to network with you.

      Are you on LI?

      All the best.

      Aruna Dhir

    11. Hi Naina,

      Very interesting insights, but I’m not too sure about the willing to help bit……Wish I meet more of that breed..
      I just wanted to know if you’re a resident of India …and if so which city.

      Mangal

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