The reverse culture shock- Networking

Apoorva Addepalli
4 min readSep 20, 2021
Photo by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash

If you’ve traveled anywhere outside your home country, odds are that you’ve experienced culture shock. However, if you are like us urban nomads, frolicking around the world, before settling back home- the adjustment can be just as extreme. In fact, I would argue, that reverse culture shock hits you harder than the average culture shock.

A couple weeks ago, 2 of my girlfriends and I were catching up over foggy old memories and future aspirations. The common denominator between us all was that we found our way back home after years abroad.

Some spilled drinks and a handful of lame jokes later, one of my them goes “ How on earth do you land a job in our own home country. We have no network going for us!”.

And then the other said “ How do you even “network” in India?! No one ever responds!”.

So alas here we are! A few foreign returns struggling to ace the game on their home turf because the rules of networking vary so dramatically across countries.

But what exactly are the challenges?

  1. The LinkedIn Debacle- thanks for leaving me on read!

ENTER INDIA: A high context culture AKA A beast of its own. Beautifully intricate, yet incredibly complex as a nation. How on earth do you create connections when it is a known fact that that there are more people than jobs?

I’ve briefly written about the networking etiquette in India here. They either ghost you right after they add you onto their LinkedIn network (thanks to the shameless ping). OR worse, post replying to your ping they leave you on read when you follow up with a Zoom call request!

The question is simple- How do you rebuild a base in a your country when folks aren’t willing to respond or follow up with you? Last I checked isn’t LinkedIn, at its core, meant for “networking”?!

2. It is all about who you know

Want to know the 101 of scoring the right “In”? : It’s all about who you know within the country.

Word of mouth goes a longer way than random LinkedIn pings. It stems from credibility of the resource referring you. The trust your potential connection has in your connector.

Between kids joining family businesses or kids growing through the conventional ecosystem (campus placements), it is fairly easy to build credibility for themselves. They have organic networking bases! However, if you are a newbie with zero “reliable” backing- it’s a tough world out there!

Lately what I’ve been tending to do is openly voicing my struggle in securing professional connections. At the very least, I can get some free advice from new people. Plus MAYBE they feel obliged to help build my networking train!

Here’s what we can do about it

Its tricky, this whole reverse acclimatizing, when the how-to’s on networking varies across borders.

I am not here to criticize the Indian system (Why would I move back if that was my intention!). All I aim to do is provide a fresh-er perspective. Because clearly the younger pool of talent isn’t able to optimize their experiences to the best of their abilities.

How do we bridge the gap between folks up the ladder and rookies starting from the bottom in this country?

  1. Invest in younger talent

People of my generation understand this gap. Some are able to segregate time out of their schedules to play an active role in playing advisors to their extended circles. They are making a conscious effort to encourage professional chats and promote connectivity.

But obviously it doesn’t end there. We need MORE professionals up the ladder to be open to new (and random thanks to LinkedIn) relationships. For the record, I’ve had some of the finest mentors over the years thanks to their leap of faith in willing to connect with a total stranger!

2. Create more networking events

Apparently there is a “need” in the market for younger talent, but I am not sure where these companies are even!?

Every time I move to a new place, I look forward to networking events. That way, I’d begin to expand my professional circle. However since moving back, this has been rather hard. There hasn’t been any opportunity to attend any networking event!

While Covid plays a big part in this, what it has opened up is the capabilities to conduct anything digitally! Corporations NEED to bank on this and set up more events benefitting the younger pool of talent. Because the on other option we have is resorting to joining B school courses to access their respective networks.

So lastly…

Here is something that often plays on my mind: After years of LinkedIn networking and months of trying to find leads, I got connected to a wonderful person. They took a chance on me and we had a 30 min call. They’d never seen me before. They never met me in person. All they felt was that they were talking to a young passionate girl with lofty goals.

They helped me connect some dots and let me run with it. Over the years, they have gone on to become one of my good-est friends! When I asked them why they were being so overly generous to me, all they said was, “ Someone did the exact same for me at a time I was struggling. I’m just paying it forward!”.

Those words stick through with me every day. In a culture that is built on human relations, I believe India would be a whole new place if we invested more time and effort into paying it forward in the adulting world!

Especially for foreign returns like me, it would be a much less intimidating place to rebuild my base!