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The secret to networking success: cheesy bread (Part 1)

Hi friends,

As a society, we talk a lot about networking. Doesn't matter if you're a student, senior-level exec, or anything in between, we're constantly bombarded with messaging about its importance. There are entire books written on it, influencer content series built around it, must-buy resources guaranteed to make you better at it, and even college courses dedicated to the subject. 

But what if we told you that you don't need any of those? That you shouldn't waste your money on the books and the courses. That you don't need to spend time going down an endless rabbit hole on YouTube or TikTok. What if we said we've actually mastered the art of networking and we're willing to share. That's right. We're here to tell you our top secret strategy, 100% guaranteed to win friends and influence people. Are you ready? We've got two words for you: cheesy bread. BOOM. Mic drop. 

Ok, by now you (hopefully) realize that we're joking about knowing the secret to networking. But let us explain. Cheesy bread has been a key component in some of our most memorable and impactful encounters. Still don't believe us? Let me share two quick examples.

First, let's talk about the 2023 espnW Summit. In May of last year, Sam and I attended our first-ever event for empowHERed. Sam's former espnW boss, Laura Gentile, had provided us with tickets and we were SO excited. Like almost-teared-up-seeing-our-company-name-on-our-name-tags excited. After years of talking about starting our own company together, we were finally here. 

During the event, had the chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. And while we took notes during the informative panels, exchanged business cards at lunch, and jotted down ideas throughout, the real benefit came at the cocktail reception after the summit. That's where we ran into our old friend and mentor, Julie Foudy. After a few tequila-based cocktails, she invited us to the after-party at the private rooftop bar and restaurant.

While we came to find out that it was technically only for ESPN employees, we decided to go with the flow. That's where we ordered our first cheesy bread appetizer (yes, we may have enjoyed more than one...we'll get to that) of the night. And let me tell you...nothing makes you more popular at an after party than a delicious appetizer that you're willing to share. We spent the next hour-plus talking to a SportsCenter anchor, bonding over dogs, boys, and being females in sports. She's since become a friend and empowHERed mentor! That's also where we first connected with astronaut Nicole Mann and started what has become an awesome relationship with NASA. In fact, it's the same night that we made countless connections that led to future webinar guests, mentors, and partners.

Needless to say, we were feeling pretty proud when we finally made our way back to our hotel room a little after 3 am. So proud, in fact, that we DoorDashed some Domino's cheesy bread. That of course turned into an adventure in itself when our driver couldn't find our hotel and only spoke Spanish. Despite Sam repeating "aqui, aqui" into the phone countless times, we were struggling to communicate and getting nowhere. Undeterred and being the problem solvers that we are, we then decided to use my phone to call my husband Paul, who minored in Spanish when he was in college a decade ago. We then held our phones up to one another, hoping Paul could translate and speak to our driver for us. Long story short: we eventually got our cheesy bread and ate it while basking in a successful day of networking and brand-building. 

Anyway, I took a slight detour with that story so I'll stop there for now. Obviously, cheesy bread isn't the secret to becoming a better networker, but it serves as an awesome metaphor for what can happen when you relax and be your authentic self. But I've rambled on enough for now...check out part 2 of the blog next week!

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