Wednesday, May 16, 2012

12 networking tips ..

The other night at an official dinner party at Pune ,as I was dwindling my wine glass, I realized the network in effect ,in its process of solidifying , taking a shape.The small motilities, the moments of interactions, the smooth exchanges, which were forming the perceptions of the people we are, going to drive the relationships and its credibilities in near future. Now, socializing being one of the many ways of networking ; without being cultivated is like ‘I know you from a party so what ‘…which kind of justifies why I should put a few of my views to network and sustain it. I am still not the suave and savvy guy whose words cut like knife through a butter and have everyone zapped but overall I think I am trying to understand a bit of the game and can remain connected with people. Believe me it is hard. Human beings are surprisingly complex creatures and making friends(which is what useful networking is all about) become progressively difficult as you grow old specially with the ever increasing purmutitative cyber social circle . So when this rather smart friend of mine,a recent resignee from his savvy quality consulting job told me the other day that he finds it difficult to network,and is usually the orange juice drinker at a corner at dinner parties, I was not surprised. Having gone through the same phase myself I knew exactly how he felt and thought of penning down some of the tit bits which I have diligently tried to follow. Most these are supposed to work apart from the occasional misfire –but they do help…

1). Keeps your eyes open – Most of us think of networking as something we have to go out there and do. Wrong. There are several people around you- in your office, at your club, your housing community, among the parents of your kid’s friends with whom you can network. Are you well networked with your boss’s boss ? Do people outside your immediate team know you? Do you talk to the gentleman who swims at the pool with you and waves to you everytime you plunge in? When was the last time you dropped in at your neighbour’s home? Look around – there are useful connects that are passing you by because you are not aware enough of people immediately around you or too busy to pause for a moment…

2). Offer to help – We go into the networking mode thinking what can I get out of this relationship. Negative. The right question to NOT to ask What can I bring to the relationship. Why should Mrs X talk with me? Approaching networking as a transaction does not help. Instead lay the brickworks by being the good samaritian around. Offer to be the secretary at your newly formed housing society.Your Ganesh Puja association president or at least a chanda collector .Offer to help the gentleman brush up his swimming strokes or correct his bicep wok out posture. At office, be the one who arranges the pizza party(and then make sure you invite your boss’ boss to it),or the other guy who is not finding the project phone code to make a call from desk. Do these things with genuine intention and watch your connects grow.

3). Piggyback – All of us know the uber social creature – that one friend in your list of good friends who knows everyone around. Tag along. Yes, simply tag along. Being the good friends and proverbial networker that he is, he wouldn’t mind. Piggyback to make friends – most people find it easier to connect if there is someone who acts as a bridge.

4). Introduce two other connectors – this is an unbelievable technique ,on line with the above. If you can introduce two people who are themselves great connectors then you become a meta-connector. They will meet and get along (connectors get along with each other for two reasons: they are naturally friendly people (hence their ability to connect so easily with people) AND they have a lot of friends in common almost by definition.) If you are in the middle of that connection then they will always remember you and you’ll always be on their mind for future potential connections they can make the world useful for you .And their rolodexes are immense.

5). Introduce two people with an idea in mind - Priyank meet Richik.Richik meet Amit. Richik, you have the best discount dining business I have ever heard .Priyank , your ground operational idea is the best home delivery idea I know of. You both can make money together. No need to “cc” me. In other words, if you can help two other people make money then eventually, good things will happen to you. In cases where I’ve been able to do this (rare, but it’s happened) I always tell people who say “what can I do for you” that “if they ever find me in the gutter with blood leaking from my mouth and a needle sticking out of the veins in my elbow then at the very least pull the needle out.” That’s all I ask. The first time I ever did this I went home and told my girlfriend, “I just helped two people make money for the first time ever.” And she said, “yeah, but what did you get?” I got nothing. But I felt something. I felt like I had done good in the world and that if I kept doing it, eventually it would return to me. And it did from these very 2 people months later.

6). Something smart to say - In order to connect two people, you have to have people to connect. You have to meet them in the first place. The best way to do that is to produce something of value. People are busy. Nobody wanted to meet some random guy like me. So instead I tried a new technique. For each people I wanted to meet I would spend time researching their business and come up with 10 ideas that would help them that I would just completely give for free. Networking as I earlier said is about what you bring to the table.Look out for common interests, overlapping work areas or even common things to hate. And latch on to it. ‘Oh you play tennis? Where? Why don’t you try the XYZ courts where I practise? They are fabulous and who knows we can team up together in the next yearly meet ’

7). Carry your wits along - I remember a business dinner some years back when a friend of mine introduced me to a digital media entrepreneur. This was a connect I had been looking for however after the initial handshake I started the conversation with,’Oh you are a could expert ’(as if that were a find of the century). Needless to say the conversation and the connection did not take off. Carry your wits along. The easiest thing to do is to ask intelligent , open ended questions like – ‘You are in an exciting field of cloud computing. But is not the field very competitive these days?,Everybod is talking about it. How do you deal with it’

8 ). Listen – Many people who say they cannot network attribute it to the fact that they are not smooth talkers. But I believe a greater part of networking is about listening. People, specially successful ones love to talk. All you have to do is be a good listener and pick up the cues to keep the conversation going. Listen and remember; so that the next time you connect you can ask him about the Singapore deal he was worried about. Nothing pleases us more than to be remembered.

9). Smile – As you stand in the corner, with antiquity blue, look around with a confident smile and try to make eye contact. Chances are someone will return the smile and you can start a conversation.

10). Re-establishing Contact - The other day I was following my own advice of connecting with post grad college mates ,I messaged one old friend about how she is doing in her B school and how she help me with studies in my post grad school .She immediately wrote back (because, unlike me, she’s a good connector and sme) and said, “what are you up to? Here”s what I’m doing. Maybe we can work together again and work on a developing a business case in reverse innovative model ” This is 6 years after I last spoke to her. Guess what she’s now on my call list. But I’ll get back to her. Maybe later today. After I post my blog. Because I promised my friend 3 months ago that I would post “today” although “today” means that day three months ago.

11). Cultivate – The most important thing to do without which you cannot nourish a relationship enough. Networking is about farming and requires efforts to maintain. Stay in touch with the occasional sms , DM , email or the phone call. Wish on their birthdays, remember anniversaries. If you happen to be in the same city, plan a meet up. Judge your network not by the numbers but by the depth of the ties at least that’s what an HBR article says.

12). Have a booze party of interesting people - Ok and maybe dinner too.I’ve only done this twice.Once at new years eve of 2006, I invited people from every aspect of my life (friends, friends’s friends,their wives and ex wives ) to my place, I got everyone the magic potion , and it was a fun time. I solidified my relationships with some of my ol pals 7 years later, plus with some of the funds was invested in, and I managed to connect people up who later did work together. On another occasion I threw a party for everyone who had been fired by Birlasoft. It got a little awkward when the guy who had done most of the firing (who had himself been fired right before then) was also there but it was all in good fun. Not sure how much goodwill it created for me. Too early to tell. But, I much more enjoy GOING to the dinner that I’m invited to. I’ve met a lot of interesting people. My main problem is that my normal bedtime is about 10.30 pm. So sometimes I fall asleep at the table and everyone thinks I’m on drugs. And other times I just can’t go to the diner because I know I won’t be functional the next morning when I like to work out. But sometimes I got just because my roomie gets sick of having me around all the time and pushes me out the door. So please keep inviting me.

I hope these tips help get you past the opening ‘Hi’ and move you out of the corner reserved for solitary orange-juice drinkers(I love orange-juice but will not want to stand fidgeting with the glass in a party).I would sum this up for now and write a follow up post on how I was able to put the skills to test at the dinner party tonight with CP,Ceo Mahindra Satyam , TechM combined ,annual award winners –and for all so called 'conversation skills' was, if at all able to barge into the old boys’ network.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Romance with Love and Fashion – The French Way

The city of Love, Romance and Fashion, Paris, is unique in more ways than one, and what could have been an interesting place for our International Immersion Program of XLRI than this city of the Eiffel Tower? The moment we landed at the Charles De Gaulle Airport, what struck us was the innate beauty of this city. We couldn’t wait to move out of the airport and as expected, the picturesque beauty seemed never ending! Our day ended with a dinner at an Indian Restaurant – and that perhaps was the last bit of Indian Food we tasted in France.

Late night first day walk followed by the misty morning walk was an experience beyond imagination, especially so as the famous “Mohabbatein” leaves adorned the roads with a red carpet for us to walk on. Our co-ordinator Mr. Ricky Young acquainted us with the campus and nearby places to eat, shop, party n drink! The IESEG School of management has campuses in Lille and Paris. We were welcomed by the Director and International Relations Team at IESEG. The Lille campus hosted classes for us on a gamut of topics ranging from the origin of French culture to the making of European Union; from Marketing and Decision Making the McDonald way to Production Operations- the globalised approach; with faculty from diverse geographies - French, English, German, Italian and Indian. A distinctive supply chain game organised by Prof Newman, emphasizing the importance of Just in Time will always remain at the back of our minds while working on Supply chain activities. The first ten days went in attending lectures and exploring the majestically architected city of Lille. We savoured the French cuisine which made us savour a variety of cheese flavours. Our co-ordinator rightly pointed out that if we want to taste all the French cheeses, it would take us more than a year! 

The rendezvous with France began with a weekend trip to Paris. As if the grandeur of the city was not enough, the majestic Louvre Museum, beautiful Seine River and the imposing Notre Dame captured our imagination and evoked sheer admiration. The history books of the secondary standard quickly flashed in our memory as we saw the remains of the times of French revolution at Chateau De Versailles.

The college assigned us company projects at some of the best known French firms in domains which included Marketing, Production, HR and Logistics.  Each project was unique and helped us develop competencies to conduct business in a global world.

Italy was the weekend destination for some of us, while it was “Spain calling” for the rest. Enthralled we were, on seeing the sight of the walls covered by the paintings of Michael Angelo at the Sistine Chapel, the majestic Colosseum, and the magnificence of the Leaning Tower of Pisa; some of the most astonishing marvels that history could have ever produced. Watching the live Football match and applying management concepts gave an adrenaline rush to some of the Spain weekenders. 

Lucky were we to see the Choco-Late, the World Famous Bruges Chocolate Fest before our memorable three week trip came to an end. Though “Made in France” and “Made in Italy” do not sound as extraordinary as they did once for Indian shoppers, this immersion trip nevertheless will always remain close to our hearts and Europe will still be most preferred student exchange destination. Bon Voyage!

Article by:
Meenal Jain (GMP 2011-12)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

GliMPse - The much awaited Second Issue!

The last couple of months have been fun and we are excited to present to you the second issue of the GliMPse Magazine 2011-12. This issue comes with enhanced design features, ease of access and diverse range of content - viewpoints and special-interest articles, interviews of faculty and alumni, some fun stuff, GMP batch and campus events.

And many thanks to our generous supporters who have responded with feedback, and told us ways of improving what we do with the magazine.

We hope you enjoy this issue and do drop in a line or two at to let us know what you think! We always appreciate your feedback and support. Wish you all a very happy new year. .

GliMPse Committee 2011-2012
General Management Program
XLRI Jamshedpur

Monday, December 26, 2011


It goes without saying that at XLRI we celebrate and rejoice at the drop of a hat! Pasted below are some awesome photographs of the Christmas Decorations on campus.

Merry Christmas!!

We’re looking forward to bringing the New Year already.

Photographs by: Venkatesh Iyer (GMP 2001-12)

Transition from Contracting to Consulting. Can a MBA degree help?

The joke goes, "A consultant is a person who provides a rationale for what the management wants to justify!" But jokes aside – Do we really understand what consulting is and what it takes to be a good consultant? I for a very long time had some very false notions about consulting until I got a consultant’s view on consulting. As they say, straight from the horse’s mouth. Whether I will become a good consultant will remain to be seen.  

I worked for close to six years in the IT Services Industry and for about three years in the US as a systems analyst and as a project lead, and I have always introduced myself for the sake of simplicity as an “IT Consultant” to folks at the apartment office, insurance agent and even during Immigration. And I actually believed I was one.

During that time I worked very closely with a colleague, an MBA who worked as a business analyst and was actually designated as a “Consultant” within the organization. He was versatile, a very quick learner and had great people skills as well as niche domain skills. We had developed a good working relationship and over our many conversations realized that he was very disgruntled and frustrated because of the fact that he wasn’t getting any real consulting engagements. And that caught me a bit by surprise. I asked him, “Aren’t you a Consultant”? He said to my bewilderment that while I am designated as a consultant, what I really do is contracting. And he went on to explain to me the difference between contracting and consulting.

A contractor usually works under someone’s supervision, to help complete part of a larger project. And he or she is told what to do, how to do, and when it needs to be done. Contractors, he said really are focused on a single type of mid-level activity—such as programming in a specific language or with a specific tool. They work on specific tasks and often are unaware of the scope, business goals, or impact of the overall project. Contractors generally fill a void in the skill sets of their clients or provide additional resources for accomplishing a goal. Often, these contractors really like what they are doing, are good at it, and don't have a desire to change roles. 
While a real consultant analyzes the business/technical problem and decides how to solve it, often using methods or tools that the client hasn’t even thought of or wouldn’t even have been exposed to. And the consultant is self-directed and does whatever it takes to deliver the solution that meets the client’s needs. Consultants aim to get an understanding of the overall scope and goals of a project, make sure that they understand the deliverables, and offer specific suggestions when it makes sense. A consultant should provide an increase in the breadth and depth of technical skills, an improvement in analytical skills, and the ability to clearly and concisely communicate important information in a timely manner.

While you might be good programmer, technical writer and so on, you are essentially following directions to create good work, which is a far cry from being creative, having initiative to assess a client’s needs, and determining the best way to solve the crisis. And I reluctantly accepted the fallacy of the idea that I was working as an “IT Consultant” and digested the reality which seemed a little harsh after 4-5 years in the industry.

Next up on our discussion was, given an opportunity to do consulting, how do we make the transition from being a contractor to a consultant?

First develop a niche and don’t be just another consultant. Once you develop expertise in a particular segment of the industry, there is rarely a paucity of work that’s profitable and interesting. Spend a lot of time learning as much as you can in one area, while not ignoring the other related areas. But how do pick your niche? Usually, it picks you. Go with something that interests you, especially if little is known about it and if there is a lot of growth potential.

Desire to Learn Continuously - Slowly and cautiously add more services and expertise to your "inventory” which requires continuous learning of new things. Most consulting projects are going to put you face-to-face with situations or contexts in which you must learn (and learn fast) in order to succeed.

Strong Interpersonal Skills - The essence of consulting is communicating, generating trust, and getting information from people who don't even know they have it. This requires the necessary interpersonal skills to know when to press, to be aggressive, to just listen, and much more. And above all, you need to get along well with people. No matter how technical your field, if you don't like working with people, and lack the required people skills, you'll have an uphill battle in the consulting business.

Be flexible - Consultants are subject to a great deal more uncertainty as to when and where they’ll be working. Some weeks they may be fully utilized, having a lot more to bite than they can chew, and other weeks they may be doing nothing. Consultants have to manage several relationships, and balance the needs of a group of clients to try to make sure everybody gets what they want.

Do some marketing - Market yourself well. Build a brand, a reputable one at that, and look for ways to get your name around and build your credibility at the same time. Conferences, publications and web sites are good mediums for raising your profile and establishing your credibility. A well-received presentation at a workshop one day might generate leads several months later.

Make some friends - The most powerful source of business for any consultant is networking. A personal recommendation from a friend or colleague to their client or employer carries a lot of weight.

Commitment to Personal and Professional Integrity - Consulting lifeblood is based on reputation and that is built on integrity, honesty, and ethics. Unless you set the highest standards for yourself, your customers and prospective customers will find out.

The qualities enumerated above would be applicable to consulting of any kind – management consulting, strategy consulting, operations consulting or any other niche domain within the industry (like corporate finance consulting). But how would an MBA help you develop the mindset required for a consultant?

A MBA curriculum provides the right kind of intellectual stimulation - exciting projects and case studies that help you develop a systematic approach to problem solving, and put in practice the knowledge, tools and techniques. Overall helps you build a strong foundation which you can only improve upon. And most importantly you will get to study with top-notch, talented peers from across various industries. You might also get an opportunity to rub shoulders with senior management (often CEO/CFO level professionals) and develop fantastic networks that can propel your career northwards.

I am sure we have only scratched the surface here and there ought to be a lot more to learn about consulting, but if you get the basics right, then there will always be plenty of time to learn the ropes as you go along and find a way of working that suits you best.

An MBA degree might not equip with you all the qualities that you need to become a good consultant, but it would at least open a few doors for an aspiring consultant. And as always it would be the attitude that would open the last door.

Authored by:
Hrishikesh C
GMP 2011-12


·         Meredith Little, “The difference between contracting and consulting and why it matters” - Website:

·         Chip Nickolett, “Are you a consultant or a contractor?”  - Website:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

XLRI GMP 2011-12 Placement Brochure

The General Management Program's Placement Brochure can be accessed from the below link:

The GMP Placement Committee can be contacted at:

Our Affair, with New Orleans.

We were already imagining the aromas of Creole food wafting in the air, and live jazz bands playing to packed bars. This was even before our long journey to New Orleans. She (New Orleans is definitely feminine, beautifully lady-like at times, but nevertheless filled with all the enthusiasm of a teenaged girl) beckoned to us invitingly, and we couldn’t wait to be there! The excitement in the air was palpable, almost electric.

For many of us, the visit to New Orleans and to the United States was a first and we were eagerly looking forward to a new business climate, myriad cultures and of course sinking our teeth into meaty challenges at work. For the uninitiated, New Orleans is unique and crazy in a bunch of ways. She was hardly like the other American cities that some of us had visited; certainly not a bunch of glass-and-steel structures, a few eateries and cafes, and a street of nightlife. She had something that very few American cities can claim to possess. Culture.

The riverfront “South” mixed with French sophistication coupled with African-American energy (quote: Wikitravel), makes her truly mesmerizing.

The 18 of us from the General Management Program at XLRI took classes on Strategic Consulting at Tulane University. We were taught by Professor Michael Wilson, a renowned consultant himself. We had also been assigned projects at different organizations. Now, these projects were essentially “problems” that the organizations faced, and we were roped in to help as consultants (how fancy!). Our schedules were in such a way that we alternated between school and work. At school, Professor Wilson taught us concepts substantiated with examples from his personal consulting experience, and guided us on the projects as well, and at work we attempted to practice what was taught to us. The schedule helped us bridge the gaps between learning and application.
The bunch of us with Professor Wilson

EMHStrategy, a consulting firm, acted as our liaison with the organizations and helped us in procuring the projects. A perfect example of the different people that we met during our 3 week stay at Tulane is Francisco Robert, nicknamed Paco.

Paco (who is of Puerto Rican descent) was an MBA grad at Tulane University. Before enrolling in business school, Robert was “chef de partie” at Alinea, the celebrated Chicago restaurant and a graduate of the famed Culinary Institute of America. Paco was interested in full time consulting as well, and hence decided to pursue his MBA at the Freeman School of Business, Tulane University. Today, as a consultant with EMH Strategy, Robert specializes in helping restaurants and food-related businesses manage change and prepare for growth. Picture that for an interesting life!
Francisco “Paco” Robert and Duchess, one of three chickens he and his wife are raising in the backyard of their home on Panola Street.

We had our fill of Ghost tours, Jazz bars on Frenchmen Street, Coffee & Beignets at the famed Café Du Monde, the French Quarter and the Flea Market, Swamp and Alligator Tours, Absinthe hallucinations, Country music on Decatur Street, Voodoo shops (complete with voodoo toys and dream-catchers), 25 cent martinis on Commanders, and all-night-long parties in the sinful Bourbon Street!

           The 3 weeks went by in a flash, and the return journey felt like a rude awakening from a fantasy filled dream. Indeed, she (New Orleans) is either partying or recovering from a party. She will be missed sorely by all of us!