Interview with Stephanie Thoma, Networking Strategy Coach

At the start of the year I dedicated time to reflect on 2018 and set some intentions for the year ahead. I documented projects I wanted to pursue in my blog post on 2019 Goals, and also shared my desire to highlight my conversations with Founders and Entrepreneurs in the San Francisco Bay Area in an ongoing “Interview Series”. After all, I’m meeting new people every day and I’m out at multiple events each week experiencing firsthand the entrepreneurial spirit that the Bay Area is known so well for!

Last month, I interviewed the Founder of Meetup Group, SF Girl Bosses: Brenda Chen and shared my takeaways from her January Event on “Networking for Introverts”. Anyone who knows me well laughs when I shared that I attended this, because I’m a very obvious Extrovert 🙂

Since I’ve enjoyed every single one of Brenda’s events, and this was the first event of January, I was eager to see the SF Girl Boss community again so I signed up anyways! To my delight, the Facilitator and Presenter of this session, Stephanie Thoma, taught a lot of valuable tips that Extroverts can benefit from too!

Read the my Event Summary here: https://poymeetsworld.com/sf-girl-boss-networking-for-introverts-recap/

I knew I wanted to interview Stephanie for my blog series because, like me, she also went to a ton of events and I was interested to learn about her strategies for choosing which events to attend. I was also excited to learn that she would be taking her “Networking for Introverts” on a roadshow and wanted to dig deeper into that!



About Stephanie:

Stephanie Thoma is an IRL Connection Advocate, Director of PR for the Young Professionals of San Francisco, and has made a career out of networking. Stephanie attended more than 300 networking events per year in 2016 and 2017, and in 2018 produced and hosted over 100 events in SF. Despite growing up as an introvert, Stephanie has been able to make powerful personal and professional connections and has a thorough understanding of building relationships.


You can read more about Stephanie and her services here:
https://www.stephaniethoma.com/

Some of Stephanie’s services


Below are some snippets from our conversation where I learned more about things like whether Stephanie’s IRL consulting was a full time gig and how she decided which events to go to! I was also curious to hear her takeaways from her first introvert event and also, which event she would say has been her favourite. Lastly we closed off by chatting about
what was coming up in the next few months.

I really enjoyed your event and and was wondering how you started –  is event production something you do on a full time basis?

Stephanie: I wear several hats! In the event space it started with potlucks in my backyard and then morphed into the real estate world and YPOSf and TEDx SF. I also conduct qualitative market research and help people with resumes, career transitions, personal branding and website copy.

That’s really awesome – I love the holistic approach to your services and aligns closely with my own views about wellness and growth.
Tell me about your
history with Brenda and the Girl Boss meetup group?

Stephanie: I met Gigi at a General Assembly event and in the name of making one new friend at an event- starting a conversation before the event began. She suggested that I get in touch with Brenda of SF Girl Bosses, and we scheduled a tea meeting.

When Brenda and I met, there was just so much synergy – she was talking about retreat as an idea and I got really excited about the whole concept!
I’m also a meditation script writer, and wrote some material for an app.I shared that I was happy to produce an event where I could read or relay some of my scripts. Several months later, this became a real thing – a full fledged retreat and I was the meditation instructor!

What a great story! I am really seeing a pattern here in San Francisco – the pattern of meeting someone new, and getting a recommendation for whom else to meet that shares similar goals and values! I’m glad that interaction brought you to the SF GirlBoss group where I got to see your work in action!


Let’s talk about the event itself.
I did an extensive write up because I get fulfilled advocating for causes I believe in and and doing my part to build inclusive communities. I shared my observations, as well as Brenda’s, and am excited to hear yours!

Was there anything that surprised you about hosting this event?

Stephanie: I found that people enjoyed the interactive role playing more than I thought and it showed me that introverts need the opportunity to be active and do more than just the journalling. This was my first time hosting this workshop and for future iterations I would like to dig a little deeper and infuse even more interactive activity.

I also want to give credit to the crowd for being there for and being so invested in their own self-improvement. We all have a shared mission and have similar struggles.

Captive audience at the January SF Girl Boss Event where Stephanie debuted her workshop!


Well said Stephanie!

I am a firm believer in stepping out your comfort zone for personal growth and development and really admire how you created the space for self-proclaimed introverts that by definition, shy away from this type of activity.

My next question to you is a very practical question How do you search for events?

I’ve been impressed and in awe from the abundance of events in San Francisco!

Stephanie: I love Eventbrite and Facebook event for searching keywords. I also follow various organizations and see what they promote.

For example: Young professionals girl tribe, SF Girl Bosses, super girls SF
For general networking: Young professionals of SF, NASDAQ, General Assembly.

I have a pretty hearty list of different organizations and stay tuned to their events

.

Awesome! Now I’m interested to hear about about your favourite recent event – can you share one you organized and one you attended?

Stephanie: My favorite event I have produced so far is the Networking for Introverts workshop. Through trial and error I found what works and have relayed that to others. I love it when people tell me, “I tried your tips and I feel more confident- your workshop really helped me!”

This is just the beginning too! My workshop is going on tour! (Dates at bottom of the post)

As for an event that I attended: Brenda’s SF Girl Boss retreat was truly a magical experience

SF Girl Boss Winter Retreat – Photo from Founder, Brenda Chen

18 women attended and everyone had such an openness to connecting with people and 
finding a deeper meaning. We experimented with 
breaking through barriers within ourselves
 as a collective after scheduled activities. It was also like a 
big slumber party!


I really loved connecting with these women
. This was not your average networking event!

It was also 
really special
 with greenery everywhere
. In summary, I would say it was a weekend that is holistic and health focused
, but also covered career topics where the conversation helped identified goals
.

Amazing! I hope I can attend a future retreat and I would love to contribute to this community in the coming months.

Thank you so much Stephanie for sharing your gifts and all the best on your tour of “Networking for Introverts!

Here is a list of upcoming events Stephanie is involved in:


Upcoming Networking for Introverts Workshops

May 7: Six Degrees Society (Secret Venue)

May 16: Designers & Geeks (Yelp HQ)

June 13: Young Professionals of SF (Microsoft Lounge)

July 10: Quilt Learnshop (Secret Location)

Taken via: https://www.stephaniethoma.com/speaking

Are you planning on attending Networking events in San Francisco? Let me know in the comments!

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