SF Girl Boss Meetup – Networking for Introverts – Event Recap and Interview with Founder, Brenda Chen

“I have a confession”, I whispered to my new friend, “I’m actually an Extrovert, (My Myers-Briggs is ENFP for anyone that also enjoys personality assessments) but I attended because I just really like the SF Girl Boss Meetup events!”.

Sarah, a self-proclaimed Introvert, agreed that it was the quality of this Meetup group that drew her in and frankly, the tips could apply to anyone! I whole-heartedly agreed after attending this 90 minute interactive event held at the WeWork on Market street in Downtown, San Francisco.

In this post, I’ll provide an overview of:

1) The SF Girl Boss Meetup group
2) Networking for Introverts event summary and finally,
3) My interview with Brenda!

I enjoyed the lessons the speaker, Stephanie Thoma outlined and I plan to interview her next, as part of my ongoing commitment to share Personal Development/Entrepreneurship stories to highlight personalities in San Francisco that are following their passions and creating community!



SF Girl Boss Meetup Group

When I first moved to San Francisco in the late Summer, I knew I had to find some networks and communities to plug into, to start building new friendships and also, business contacts. Canadians in Tech expat groups were an obvious resource (like C100, Connections Silicon Valley), and I quickly found a role with Canadian Entrepreneurs in Life Sciences. I was also keen to seek out Women in Business groups and knew Meetup would be a valuable platform!

When I ran my Young Professional Personal Development Events in Vancouver, one of the sponsors of my Winter event was my friend Sarah’s Vancity Gal Pals Meetup. Through them I had a bit of familiarity with the Meetup platform.

This particular Meetup stood out to me right away because of their inclusive and welcoming feel!

https://www.meetup.com/sfgirlbosses/

WHO: Genuine, ambitious women who want to form lasting connections.

WHAT: Workshops, girls night out, concerts, speaker panels, networking events, volunteering, hikes, picnics… The possibilities are endless! We live in one of the most amazing cities in the world – let’s explore together.

WHEN: Just about every week! Events are consistent and high quality. This is because:

  • Attendance is verified and confirmed with each person.
  • Venues are attentively chosen.
  • We foster an atmosphere of support and fun.

WHERE: The most happening spots in SF. This is a collaborative group, so feel free to contribute!

WHY: To meet fellow girl bosses, exchange ideas, have meaningful conversations, share projects, inspire each other while having a great time! This makes it easier for you to build relationships and make girlfriends.

I attended up attending 2 previous events, each time inviting a new girl friend with me to build community and connections. For this particular event, I came alone.

Networking for Introverts Event Description

Do you feel anxious at the thought of networking? Do you wish you felt more comfortable meeting new people, but feel like networking is too quick and shallow for you to do it right? Do you feel misunderstood, coming off as unfriendly without meaning to?

The “Networking for Introverts” workshop has been designed to address those specific concerns and more. You’ll leave this event not only having a game plan for your future networking experiences, but also feeling more confident in yourself and your ability to make meaningful connections.

About the speaker:

Stephanie Thoma is an IRL Connection Enthusiast, Director of PR for the Young Professionals of San Francisco, and has made a career out of networking. Stephanie attended more than 100 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.

*****

I got to the WeWork location early and found myself a comfortable seat in the corner.

I connected with Sarah (mentioned in my intro) right away when we both laughed at how we were attending this Introvert event and purposefully choosing seats at the very farthest corner! What can I say? I really wanted a seat with a cushion! And she wanted the window pocket-seat.

In my feedback forms that I shared with the organizer Stephanie, I noted how much I enjoyed the videos she sourced and presented to the group:

Susan Cain – Introversion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUaj7rj6MI8

Marie Forleo – Networking Basics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkqd6T399tQ

Networking Falsities

After the video presentations, Stephanie provided these helpful summaries below:

Event Prep – Get in the Right Headspace

I liked and agreed with Stephanie’s advice on how to get in the right headspace before heading to an event, especially if you get nervous in an unfamiliar environment.

As someone who has been out to many events and meeting new people pretty much every day in San Francisco, I use some of these tips (like meditating and going solo) and will also think of incorporating new ones.

Connections

As a closing piece of advice, Stephanie suggested that everyone should make a commitment to follow up with another attendee!

I was glad to meet Sarah and we connected for coffee less than a week later, to put that good advice to practice.

Interview with Brenda, Founder of SF Girl Bosses!

Stephanie Thoma with Brenda Chen

I love Brenda’s events and how inclusive and informative they are. Even though the Meetup title has the words “Girl Boss”, I always see a couple men at the events, along with people of all ages. I also appreciate that she keeps each event accessible so that anyone can attend. As a bonus, the 3 particular events that I have been to so far have been complimentary 🙂

Here is my interview:

1) What prompted you to create the group?

When I graduated, I was very lost and wanted to know how to meet people with similar goals. A writer suggested meetup.com but I didn’t do anything until a couple months later. I traveled to Paris as I was transitioning between careers and looked up local groups to attempt to see what it was like to live there. I had the dream of living like a Parisian!

Haha, I had the same dream. There’s something so magical about Paris and the Joie de Vivre or certain je ne sais quoi! 

So tell us what happened next:

I found an International Women in Paris group – it was the only meetup I went to – and everyone there was so supportive! The energy was very different from what I experienced before. I felt like I belonged somewhere, and even though I was new to the group, I felt supported and safe.

I realized:


That’s WHY people like to travel – to have these experiences and have these connections.

I wanted to bring that warm environment to SF and provide a safe place to meet people who are like-minded and have fun doing together things we love. If I created this meetup, I could also emulate that feeling of “traveling all the time”, by meeting people from all over the world who are inspiring and awesome!

I completely agree – it certainly feels like you are travelling when you get to meet people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints! I also share the similar value of striving to create safe places and communities, which is why I created my Young Professionals Personal Development Series in Vancouver.


Do have a short summary or mission statement for SF Girl Bosses?

Brenda’s Mission Statement:
To create a supportive community that helps women reach their highest potential, so they can live the lives they dream of.

2) Why did you choose Meetup as your platform?

I had heard that this was a great way to build community and I liked that the platform was easy, straight-forward and also, that they do a lot of marketing for you. It is very intuitive to use and you can look up any City and then filter based on your interests. I don’t know of any other community that grows that way.

I want to go back to the accessibility piece – as someone who is new to SF (and also from Canada, where my dollar doesn’t go as far!) it’s great to find these events that are low-cost so I don’t have to worry about breaking the bank!

How come you chose to make some of your events free?


I thought collecting money would take too much time!

[In all seriousness though] I simply created this group for fun – it was a passion project of mine!

I do charge for retreats however, and at moment I run them at cost. I want to provide as much value while also keeping it sustainable. Definitely I will need to charge more in the future in order to keep growing and if I want to add extra benefits to attendees as well as recognize the hard work of the speakers. [So far they have been generously donating their time].

I believe in giving more than receiving. I have a Full-Time job – so that’s where I earn my living. It has been nice to give to the group without expecting anything in return.

However, I am getting back a lot!

Friendships for one, and also connections and new ideas and inspiration.

I love that! It completely aligns with my own philosophy of helping others and creating connections. I recognize that I am new to the city, without a familiar support system yet and really appreciate all the kindness and warmth people have shown me! In return, I try to roll up my sleeves and volunteer where I can! Actually one way I have made new friends, is to invite them to all the events I am scouting out and attending – including SF Girl Boss Events! As I mentioned before, I have invited 3 different new friends to come with me to these Meetups!

I’m also a fitness enthusiast, so that’s another skill I try to share with others – I’ve already trained a few new friends!

I am passionate about Fitness, including Women’s Bodybuilding and competed in my 2nd competition just last year. Bodybuilding posts here: https://poymeetsworld.com/category/active-health/bodybuilding/

3) What has been your favourite event to date?

I just love all of them in different ways!

SF Girl Bosses hosted one event related to cosmetics and “Nourishing your skin from inside out” with speaker Sopiea Mitchell. This is her company: https://www.3tozen.com/
Beauty Inside Out: https://www.meetup.com/sfgirlbosses/events/254194822/

Instead of pushing products, Sopiea spoke about nourishing your skin with diet, hydration and eating the right foods, along with making sure you’re not too stimulated and ensuring that you’re relaxed, to allow your body to reset.

The talk itself was really awesome, and the added, unexpected bonus was how willing women were to share knowledge. We had about 1 hour of questions after the official programming! She wasn’t promoting anything and even gave us really nice samples

The takeaway message was to empower us to take charge of our own health!


4) What are you looking forward to next?

I am super passionate about retreats!

https://www.meetup.com/sfgirlbosses/events/255538202/


Retreats are where everything I love comes together! It is a place for people to relax and think about what they want in their lives. When we are relaxed, we are not in survival mode and not… just trying to get by.

This retreat is a place where everyone can think about what direction they want to take next. The retreat forces people to slow down, and use this moment as a pause on their busy lives. I am teaming up with other women to bring together health and wellness practices.

We have a sold-out event [and aim to grow for the future!].

There are 13 attendees and 4 facilitators, working together to help with hosting workshops, with options to stay for the day as well as over-night. Some of the planned activities include: making spa masks, participating in cooking class, and learning arts and craft! We envision this retreat as a place to play, because really, how often do we have one day to just draw, journal and play music?

More details on the Meetup page and stay tuned for this to occur every quarter!

Thank you so much Brenda! For sharing your light in creating this vibrant community! And allowing me this time to interview you!

In closing, I do miss my Girl Gang back in Vancouver, however, I’m inspired by the community here in San Francisco and excited to build some bridges! Like Brenda, and how she adapted lessons from her experience in Paris, I aspire to make connections from my travels and bring the best of different worlds together!

It’s the middle of Winter now, but once the California sun starts shining, I can’t wait to help Brenda via SF Girl Bosses organize some community activities and outdoors retreats like this simple farewell beach picnic I arranged in my final week last July.

I also brainstormed with Brenda about my experience with clothing swaps, and how I am planning to host one!

Details are now live at:https://bayareababesclothingswap.eventbrite.com
Stay tuned for updates on other community events and interviews with community builders like Brenda and Stephanie!

Vancouver – similar to San Francisco in many ways!

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