Better Networking: Tips for Being a Better Networker

Welcome back to Branded: your comprehensive guide to creative branding.

Networking is something we know we need to do, but how can we do it well? In this episode, we’re sharing a few tips for networking in social and professional settings so you can grow your brand.

We talk about our own experiences networking (both positive and negative) and the more memorable mistakes we’ve made over the years. Take some of these ideas and level up your networking for your next event.

Key takeaways:

1. Networking Requires a Giving Attitude: The episode stresses the importance of going into networking events with a giving attitude. Rather than focusing solely on what one can gain, the emphasis is on contributing, building relationships, and offering value to others.

2. Follow-Up Promptly: It is essential to follow up with new connections within 48 hours of the initial meeting. This prompt follow-up helps ensure that people remember you and can lead to further conversations and opportunities.

3. Side Hustles Are Important: The discussion highlights the significance of having a side hustle. It serves as a fallback position in the event of a job loss, and it also helps maintain an active professional presence if one’s main job status changes.

4. Authenticity Matters in Personal Branding: The episode emphasizes the importance of being authentic when building a personal brand. It discusses how being true to oneself, even in choices of attire and demeanor, is vital for establishing an identity and remaining true to one’s values.

5. Physical Appearance Should Not Determine Networking: The hosts share experiences about how making assumptions based on outward appearances can lead to missed opportunities. They stress the importance of looking beyond appearances and focusing on the value individuals can bring in a networking context.


Larry Roberts [00:00:09]:

What is happening, everybody? I'm Larry Roberts.

Sara Lohse [00:00:12]:

And I'm Sara Lohse. And this is Branded: your comprehensive guide to creative branding.

Larry Roberts [00:00:16]:

And on this episode of the podcast, we're going to be talking about networking. And we've definitely talked about networking before four, but I think we're going to look at it a little more in depth today and maybe even look at it from a couple of different perspectives. Because networking in your day to day operations or even networking at some of your local networking organizations could be completely different than the way you network at a conference.

Sara Lohse [00:00:45]:

Yeah, I think with a conference, everyone is in the mindset of they want to do business, and that can be a completely different take versus if you're just going to a networking event, which is more just connections. But even in social settings, I've networked at weddings, I've networked at parties. Maybe that's just because I can't turn it off, but it's also, you meet different types of people from different walks of life. When you're at a networking event or you're at a conference, everyone there has something in common versus if you're just in a social setting. I feel like everyone is super unique.

Larry Roberts [00:01:22]:

As entrepreneurs and brand builders. Can we ever really turn it off? I mean, we kind of need to be networking 24/7 yeah.

Sara Lohse [00:01:32]:

And it can get annoying, honestly. I was literally at a wedding over the weekend and someone brought, like, they mentioned that they want to write a book someday. And I'm just immediately go into, okay, well, I have friends in the publishing world, so send me an email. I can't turn it off.

Larry Roberts [00:01:49]:


Sara Lohse [00:01:50]:

Just being like, oh, that's awesome. I'm just like, okay, who can I connect you with? How can we get this done? Your book will be out next.

Larry Roberts [00:01:58]:

You know, I went to the success north Dallas Young executives on Tuesday night and I just went there to, I go every month just to support the organization. And I met some people. Before I knew it, they had my book in their hand and we were taking a group photo and I made these connections and I made these new relationships, and you just never know when that opportunity is going to present itself.

Sara Lohse [00:02:23]:

Yeah. And one of the things that I have learned the hard way, that has been a piece of advice I've gotten, but I still have not listened to it, is number one rule of networking. Have a free hand. Don't have both of your hands full because people are going to try to shake your hand. And every single time I'm in a situation, my hands are full. I'm trying to shift things from one arm to the other, awkwardly go in for like an upside down handshake. And it doesn't help that I'm left handed, so I'm usually holding things in my right hand, but then they want to shake my right hand, so then I have to switch everything over or give them the awkward, we're on the same side handshake.

Larry Roberts [00:03:03]:

But at the same time, doesn't that create a memorable experience? Don't they go, oh, you're the girl.

Sara Lohse [00:03:09]:

That had all these, you're the hot mess I met.

Larry Roberts [00:03:14]:

You're the hotness, that hot mess that I met there at that event.

Sara Lohse [00:03:19]:

It's going to be a mess. May as well be a hot one.

Larry Roberts [00:03:23]:

But the thing that really spawned this conversation was I downloaded an ebook of 120 ways to power network. And I looked through it and like, wow, this might be good for us to cover some of these and kind of bring it to the forefront.

Sara Lohse [00:03:38]:

Yeah, that was one that really stood out to me. And then another one was, don't be a snob. Make sure that you're talking to anybody and everybody.

Larry Roberts [00:03:48]:


Sara Lohse [00:03:49]:

And this one really stood out, especially because I look a lot younger than I am. So I have had a lot of people kind of just snub me in a networking setting because they assume I can do nothing.

Larry Roberts [00:04:02]:

What can you possibly bring to the table, Sara?

Sara Lohse [00:04:04]:

At my age, for real, we all.

Larry Roberts [00:04:06]:

Need to know that.

Sara Lohse [00:04:07]:

Yeah. Thanks, Lisa.

Larry Roberts [00:04:10]:

Credit where credit is due is immortalized forever.

Sara Lohse [00:04:17]:

Forever. But I remember back, it was in my first job, and I was actually the one that created and ran an internship program for the company. So I would go to these events where students were allowed to go as well. They got like, free entry so that they can network with companies and try to get internships and stuff. So I remember me and Renee, who was my coworker, same age as me. We're talking to a full size adult who she used to work for.

Larry Roberts [00:04:49]:

Do I qualify as a full size adult?

Sara Lohse [00:04:51]:

Is that what you do? I'm still like an adult with training.

Larry Roberts [00:04:53]:

Thanks, I appreciate that. Thank you.

Sara Lohse [00:04:55]:

But we were talking to a full size adult, and this student sidles up in between me and Renee and the full size adult and just has her back to us and starts elevator pitching the woman. And it goes on for a, like we were in a conversation. So me and Renee are now just standing there like, all right, rude. And then after she feels like she's made her case, she turns to us and is like, oh, so where do you guys go? And we're like, we represent our company. We're here to find potential interns. And she's like, oh, do you want my card? No, I do not. Not even a little bit. And then she walks away.

Sara Lohse [00:05:39]:

And I'm pretty sure the woman she talked to who did take her card threw it out. Because even if I was a student, you don't just turn your back on someone and. Oh, God, it was not good.

Larry Roberts [00:05:53]:

Yeah. I mean, it can be hard to not make those assumptions right out of the gate, you know what I mean? But it reminds me back in the day of when I sold cars, this was way back in the day. There was an incident where everybody was on the floor. It was a slow day at the dealership, and this guy pulls up, and he's in this beater of a mini truck. You can look at the truck, and you can see that the entire dash is covered in cigarette butts. This guy gets out of the truck, he's wearing, like, coveralls, and he's less than clean. We'll put it that way, because I'm trying to be polite here. The entire floor, all the other salespeople, they vanish, right? I get with this guy because they left me there to take him on, and I show him around the dealership.

Larry Roberts [00:06:36]:

We finally find a vehicle that he's looking for. Dude writes a check at sticker. No negotiation. Just writes a sticker, full price for this van. And, of course, still nobody believed that this cat could even do this. Well, they verified funds, the check cleared, and I sold this guy a van at sticker price. No negotiation. Because everybody else made an assumption based on his appearance.

Larry Roberts [00:07:01]:

And, I mean, I couldn't have been more than 21 years old at the time. But that lesson stuck with me, and it's very applicable when it comes to networking. Regardless of these events that you're at, regardless of someone's outward appearance, there's still an opportunity to make an amazing connection. Regardless of what you may think right.

Sara Lohse [00:07:20]:

Out of the gate, it's definitely not uncommon for me to be misjudged based on I look like a child. I've seen it happen, but it's also, I feel like, for you, it happens. We've had a lot of conversations with people. One was recently about how we dress and how what you wear when you go to these events means a lot about how people take you seriously.

Larry Roberts [00:07:43]:


Sara Lohse [00:07:43]:

And your uniform is either your hoodie or your quarter zip with jeans and sneakers. And it was even said, like, oh, well, that's fine. You're just a podcaster.

Larry Roberts [00:07:54]:

Exactly. That's exactly what was said. I'm still sort of somewhat taken aback. And even just yesterday, I was in a hot seat of a mastermind. And it's a fairly high end mastermind that I don't necessarily feel comfortable being a part of because it's such a high end gig. Not that I don't consider myself a high end cat, but I'm talking, these cats are high end. There's definitely levels to this game, folks. And one of the people that were on the call, she pulled up my website, which has photos of me on stage, and there I am in my three quarter little zip up, and I've got these stark white sneakers and my jeans, and I'm doing my thing.

Larry Roberts [00:08:38]:

And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just somewhat embarrassed of the fact that she pulled up my picture in that uniform in front of this particular crowd.

Sara Lohse [00:08:51]:

But it's you. It is.

Larry Roberts [00:08:54]:

And that's the benefit of being an entrepreneur. That's the benefit of being who we are. That's the benefit of building your own personal brand, is you have that opportunity to be you. So many people live their lives in this bubble that they have to be in order to be, quote unquote, successful. And this whole podcast is about building your brand and building your personal brand and securing your personal identity and being successful within that personal identity. And someone in that same mastermind yesterday asked me, they said, if we paid you $300,000 a year, would you consider coming to work for us?

Sara Lohse [00:09:37]:


Larry Roberts [00:09:38]:

And of course I said yes. Yeah.

Sara Lohse [00:09:41]:

Where's the contract being recorded? Witnesses? This was an offer.

Larry Roberts [00:09:45]:

It is recorded. And don't think for a minute I won't play that back for them here.

Sara Lohse [00:09:51]:

As soon as they post on your new ringtone.

Larry Roberts [00:09:53]:

Yeah, but at the same time, I sat back and I went, would I.

Sara Lohse [00:10:01]:

Would you want to work for someone? Again?

Larry Roberts [00:10:03]:

Would I want to work for someone? They're offering me, they didn't really offer, but hypothetically offered $300,000 a year to travel and speak for their company around the country. And that sounds amazing, but is it really amazing? Because if I was to do that, do I still get to be who I am? Do I still get to wear the red hat? Do I still get to wear the three quarter zip up or the hoodie? Do I still get to wear my Jordans everywhere I go? And that's something that, and we've gone off on a freaking tangent here very much. Yeah, we'll come back to the networking thing here in a minute, but I think that's what you have to ask yourself. And I'm going to take this back to networking. Now, networking allows you that opportunity to be yourself, but at the same time, we have to be cognizant of the fact that the other people in the room may be looking at it from the same perspective. They're there in their brand, they're there in their comfort zone, they're building their own personal brand, they're running their business from their own perspective.

Sara Lohse [00:11:13]:

You just used every form of there in the same sentence. And the english language is nonsense.

Larry Roberts [00:11:17]:

It's all about pronouns, baby. It's 2024. So I want to make sure I'm inclusive. That's the whole goal here. So I'm being very inclusive in my description here of what we have to take into account when we're networking. And it's easy to make that snap judgment. And Sara, you led me down this path. I'm going to blame you for this.

Larry Roberts [00:11:41]:

You led me down this path because of the youthfulness of your outward appearance. You're 28 and you are young and you're put together, and a lot of people will make these outward assumptions just based on that. And that's something that we have to avoid when we're in these networking situations. Regardless of whether it's someone that appears to be young or in the case of that cat that I sold the van to, older, and who is perceived to be as not in a position to buy a brand new vehicle, let's put it that way.

Sara Lohse [00:12:16]:

I'm going to give another networking tip. I just have to say. At that wedding, someone told me that they thought they were at least a decade older than me.

Larry Roberts [00:12:24]:


Sara Lohse [00:12:24]:

And they were 27.

Larry Roberts [00:12:26]:

Yeah. And they were younger.

Sara Lohse [00:12:28]:

Yeah. So they thought I was a teenager. So we're just going to leave that there. One of the things when it comes to social event versus conference, I think the way we follow up on connections is also different. And we talked about following up with, like, when we talked about business cards and when we are exhibiting at conferences and such. But if you're just attending or you just meet somebody out in the world, I feel like at a conference setting, you follow up with an email, but at a social setting or a networking setting, I would follow up with just a LinkedIn connect or with like a little message, a note about what we talked about or something. Is that just me? Is that weird?

Larry Roberts [00:13:12]:

I don't think it's weird by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we tend to be somewhat short sighted in these scenarios. I literally just followed up with a guy that I met on Tuesday night at the young executives meeting, which was a local networking event. I literally just followed up with an email this morning. Now, we followed each other on LinkedIn that night, but what good is that?

Sara Lohse [00:13:36]:

Well, you include like a message.

Larry Roberts [00:13:38]:

Well, yeah, you have a little message. You go, oh, great. Yeah. Great connecting with you, too. Thank you. Let me know if I can do anything to help. And then you're good.

Sara Lohse [00:13:45]:

I'll usually, hey, great connecting with you here. And then when they accept it, then I'll say, let's continue the conversation, and I'll actually put my calendar link in the chat.

Larry Roberts [00:13:54]:

And that's great. That's an excellent next step. You know what I mean? And I think that's what so many times we fall short of, is not taking that next step. Now I'm sitting here breaking my arm, patting myself on the back for just sending an email to a guy I met on Tuesday night. Right. But my point there is I at least followed up. We followed each other on LinkedIn. He had a copy of my book.

Larry Roberts [00:14:18]:

So we also took a picture which was posted on LinkedIn and posted on Facebook. So we put ourselves out there in that regard. But what's going to come of it from beyond that if I don't send that email and go, hey, man, appreciate meeting you on Tuesday night. Appreciate you taking a copy of my book. Would love to continue the conversation. Do you have a calendar link? And if not, here's mine. Let's get together. Let's talk.

Larry Roberts [00:14:43]:

And again, not trying to break my arm, pat myself on the back, but I think that's such an overlooked step. So many times when we're networking, we just don't follow up. I mean, going back to the hot seat that I was in, in that mastermind, I had a gentleman follow up with me after the fact on LinkedIn that said he wanted to work with me and gave me, dude blew my mind. But this was an example of how well this individual does follow up. He wrote, like, paragraphs of input in LinkedIn after we came off this hot seat call in that mastermind, and I was blown away because he took the time to really engage and really take the relationship to the next level. And also, here's such a big part. So many times, and this is even in that list that we were talking about when we first got the episode going. So many times we go to networking events.

Larry Roberts [00:15:39]:

And what's our goal to get? Our goal is to get, to take, to find, to secure that next lead, to get that next. That's not what networking is all about. That's what getting out there and getting involved and meeting other people is all about. We have to go from a giving perspective. And I keep going back to this, and maybe this should have been the episode. Was Larry in the hot seat? I don't know.

Sara Lohse [00:16:08]:

Next episode.

Larry Roberts [00:16:09]:

Yeah. And it scared the living daylights out of me. But I gave freely of information that I don't want to give, that I really probably not even probably, I just don't want other people knowing about me, about my business and where I'm at. But guess what happened when I gave.

Sara Lohse [00:16:28]:

You got back.

Larry Roberts [00:16:29]:

I got back and they gave free. I mean, super freely. It was, was, it was the direct opposite of what I expected to happen. And it was really amazing. And I think if we go in there, not just, yeah, you're laughing.

Sara Lohse [00:16:44]:

No, I'll tell you why I'm laughing. After you.

Larry Roberts [00:16:46]:

I think I already know why you're laughing. And it's just another Larry check. I don't know.

Sara Lohse [00:16:50]:

You don't?

Larry Roberts [00:16:50]:

No, I don't. Okay, cool. Well, now I'm off track, because now I need to know why you're laughing.

Sara Lohse [00:16:57]:

So my great grandfather, I think it was my great grandfather, he used to have a saying, when you lay your breads upon the waters, they come back to you in sandwiches, which is like when you give, you get back more or something. It's a great saying.

Larry Roberts [00:17:17]:

That's the greatest saying I think I've ever heard about.

Sara Lohse [00:17:20]:

Right. But it got even better. Oh my God, my sister, so she, in college, she didn't drink much, but she had one, I think it was like their senior day, and they all got a little hammered. And she was trying to remember what this saying was. So she just starts rambling about soggy sandwiches.

Larry Roberts [00:17:41]:


Sara Lohse [00:17:42]:

So now anytime someone talks about, like, it's give more than you receive, I'm just like, you don't want soggy sandwiches. So that's why I was laughing, is because you need to lay breads and get sandwiches.

Larry Roberts [00:17:54]:

Definitely not where I was going with why you were laughing. But I love a good soggy.

Sara Lohse [00:18:00]:


Larry Roberts [00:18:03]:

We can learn a lot from soggy mean. That's, that's my whole thing, man. Going to these networking events and the young executives where I went Tuesday night, it's just an extension of another networking organization, which is just success north Dallas. There's a gentleman that has been going to success north Dallas for months now. And one of the cool things that we do there at the organization is if you are in transition from one position, potentially, to, ideally, another position, meaning unemployed. We're trying to be very cordial here and not say, if you're looking for a job, but if you are looking for a job, there's an opportunity for you to get up and say, hey, I'm so and so, and this is my background. This is what I'm looking for. And hopefully there can be a connection made that will put you back in the role that you're looking for.

Larry Roberts [00:18:56]:

And this poor gentleman is always at the main meetings, he's always at the young executives, and he has yet to find that role. And I firmly believe, because I know I've heard his background and he brings a lot to the table, but there's also that. And I don't just want to pinpoint this cat, but I'll turn it back on myself as well. There's always this air of, I just need a job, I just need a connection. I just need to make it work. I just need. That comes off this cat, and it's a little off putting at times. And that's something that I know.

Larry Roberts [00:19:38]:

And I say this, I know it because I know I do it, too. I'm very guilty of going into networking opportunities with an air of desperation, with an air of, oh, this is my chance to get a client. I've even done it in speaking gigs. I'll go to an opportunity to speak, and I guarantee you that I'm reeking of if I crush this talk, I'll get some clients. And it just doesn't work. It's never worked, and I don't believe it'll ever work. So that's something that we need to be cognizant of when we go to these events, is, what are our true intentions? Because even if we try to mask our true intentions, people can see through it. And we need to go to these events with an attitude of giving, with an attitude of contribution, with an attitude of relationship.

Larry Roberts [00:20:31]:

And that goes far and above an attitude of getting something back in return.

Sara Lohse [00:20:37]:

Yeah, I think that really highlights the importance of networking, even when you don't need anything at all. Because if then you do find yourself in that position where you're looking and you do need, you already have people you could personally reach out to because they're already part of your network. But one of the things that I think millennials, and we kind of invented the side hustle, and I think side hustles are so important just because, come on now, we invented the side hustle.

Larry Roberts [00:21:11]:

No, I was, for millennials, where you.

Sara Lohse [00:21:15]:

Were in a thing, you were just hustling.

Larry Roberts [00:21:18]:

Oh, I just hustled it.

Sara Lohse [00:21:22]:

Side hustles. Okay. We may not have invented it, but we perfected it.

Larry Roberts [00:21:28]:

Okay. All right.

Sara Lohse [00:21:30]:

But it's so important to have something like that on the side so that if you do lose your main position, you have something to fall back on. Not even just for the income standpoint, but if you're on LinkedIn and you have your position as unemployed, it might as well say dead. No one wants to talk to that person. No one wants to connect with that person. So if suddenly my company goes under, so instead of being president, favorite daughter media, I have to rely on something else, and also branded and all of that. But if I have a side hustle, I can just fill in and all these side hustles, I can just swap it out with a side hustle so that I still have a position. Because if it just says nothing like unemployed, the same what we were just saying you shouldn't do, other people are going to see that and say there's nothing they can do for me. So that's not going to get you anywhere.

Sara Lohse [00:22:27]:

So having a side hustle can be really important in the case of losing that main job.

Larry Roberts [00:22:34]:

I'm a huge advocate of side hustles, and I wholeheartedly agree. You got to have a side hustle. I may have gone side hustle a little too hard when I was still the corporate guy back in the day. I may have been side hustling on company time, but that's neither here nor there. But no, I love it, man. And that does open up those opportunities. I think the biggest takeaway here today from this conversation is go into your networking opportunities with something in each hand. So you have to struggle a little.

Sara Lohse [00:23:08]:

Bit to shake hands so they'll remember you.

Larry Roberts [00:23:10]:

So they'll remember you. That's one of my takeaways.

Sara Lohse [00:23:13]:

Speaking of remembering, though. Yeah, I just want to throw this one out there.

Larry Roberts [00:23:17]:

Throw it out there.

Sara Lohse [00:23:18]:

We talked about follow ups and now about remembering. Make sure you're following up within 48 hours, because if you wait longer than that, they will not remember ever having met you unless you're like a celebrity and they're ever going to forget you or something, or you really embarrass yourself or something. Maybe.

Larry Roberts [00:23:35]:

You ever read that? Remember that?

Sara Lohse [00:23:37]:

Yeah. But for the most part, they're not going to remember. So make sure it's within those 48 hours that you're sending that follow up.

Larry Roberts [00:23:44]:

Yeah. Thank you for scolding me, because I really meant to follow up yesterday with this individual that I followed up with this morning, but his card fell out of my wallet. I was like, oh, my God. Oh, yeah, I better follow up here. So, anyway, man, hopefully you guys got some value out of this episode. I think Sara and I really conveyed some of our own experiences here and some of the things that we've learned over the years in networking and putting ourselves out there. So hopefully, you can gain some insight from this and move forward in your networking efforts and continue to grow your own personal brand. So if you did find some value, do us a favor.

Larry Roberts [00:24:19]:

Hit that subscribe button so we can continue to bring you this amazing content each and every week. And with that, I'm Larry Robert.

Sara Lohse [00:24:26]:

I'm Sara Lohse. We'll talk to you next week.