Meetup Success: SF Women in Tech, February 2016

Earlier this week SF Women in Tech ran a hugely successful event covering what turned out to be a very hot topic,  “How to Sculpt Your Professional Brand.” Tuesday’s session focused on the importance of professional and personal branding. It also focused on how women can and should elevate the way they self-promote and move away from tendencies to undersell  themselves professionally.

What was expected to be an attendance of 150 turned out to be a far higher number, with well over 200 participants in the room. Devin Blase, a key organizer of the event, keep the schedule moving with precision. Attendees were able to get a free professional head shot during the meetup. Impressive that this service was offered!

The Panelists

Moderated by Audrey Solomon, Solutions Consultant at WalkMe, the panel had the full attention of the standing room crowd throughout the 1.5 hr discussion. The top notch panelists included:

  • Devin Blase, Head of Global Talent at WalkMe
  • Lisa Fetterman, Founder, Nomiku
  • Laura Spaventa, Senior Public Relations Manager, AppDynamics
  • Crystal Lee, Co-Founder and Director of Product and Customer Management, LifeSite
L to R: Crystal Lee, Laurie Spevanto, Lisa Fetterman, Devin Blase and moderator Audrey Solomon. Image Source: SF Women in Tech/Devin Blase.
L to R: Crystal Lee, Laurie Spevanto, Lisa Fetterman, Devin Blase and moderator Audrey Solomon. Image Source: SF Women in Tech/Devin Blase.

The panelists offered sharp, wise and sometimes hilarious insights to many of the issues that affect and concern women in tech. Topics ranged from whether you can separate your professional brand from your personal brand to how to stand out and get recognized professionally in a bro tech culture (including when you don’t want to go out and drink beer all night with the guys). During the panel discussion it was estimated that 2/3 – 3/4 of women will take themselves out of the running for a job they feel they are not 100% qualified for. On the flip side men are more likely to upsell their qualifications even if they are not 100% qualified for the job posted. The answer is to be confident, apply, and let the employer decide before you take yourself out of the running! SF Women in Tech is a superpower force to reckon with and a great resource supporting women growing and building their careers. SF Women in Tech is a group to watch!


Discussion kicked off on why our professional brand is important. As straightforward as the question is, there’s a lot to consider:

  • Lisa Fetterman in her hilarious delivery style highlighted a serious point, the fact that your reputation is with you forever, companies can come and go. Your actions can follow you personally and professionally, affecting both your personal and professional brand.
  • Devin Blase talked about how your brand can also be measured, looking at KPIs and metrics as part of your success, and being able to stand behind those metrics.
  • Laura Spaventa focused on the importance of working with integrity as your build your professional brand.
  • Crystal Lee focused on the value of being authentic and consistent in your actions and follow through. Whether you’re changing roles or companies, your brand is “living breathing and dynamic” and should evolve with you.

While discussing personal branding when looking for a job, panelists were asked what they look for when hiring and their hiring methods. In summary, there’s a sky’s the limit opportunity if you think creatively about how to stand out from thousands of others applying for a job.

Some highlights:

  • Fetterman found a hire via Instagram. Hearing Fetterman talk you get perspective from someone who is honest and straightforward in their willingness to take risks and very unconventional approaches, ready to roll with the punches. Talk about a sense of humor.
  • Blase recommended anticipating answers to questions and offering them up front if your professional history shows gaps or frequent changes in jobs (i.e., 18 month tenures). She also emphasized highlighting success with KPIs and metrics you can back up.
  • Spaventa applied to a 4 person startup. What helped her stand out from the crowd were the search results that came up when her prospective employer Googled her. The employer was impressed at her composure during a news interview covering the shooting at Virginia Tech, which she attended. This became a big reminder that we need to be aware of what prospective employers can learn about us through a simple Google search.
  • Lee is an advocate for getting your brand to speak for you. Get 3rd party support, testimonials to your abilities and find a way to promote yourself authentically.

There was unanimous agreement among the panel that networking is key whether building your professional or personal brand, in short:

  • Fetterman: “Face to face is all important”
  • Spaventa:  Became part of Tuesday’s panel because of networking
  • Lee: “People are everything”, take the networking approach as “how can I help you?” and be the solution to someone you are connecting with
  • Blase: “Networking is one thing… then do something actionable” to build the connection

SF Women in Tech meetings are quarterly. These meetings come together through pure volunteer work and commitment, the result was absolutely impressive. To learn more, find out how to get involved or to keep up with SF Women in Tech, you can find them on Facebook here.

A  huge thank you to SF Women in Tech from so many of us that went home energized and with motivating food for thought.