“Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose”
― Leonardo da Vinci
I absolutely loved my degree at university – a BA in European Studies (emphasis in British history, literature, and linguistic development) and a Minor in history. But I will be the first to admit that as educated as I believed my degree helped make me, there were a host of other skills I didn’t learn at school. Among them were a number of business skills that I’ve spent the last year working purposefully to acquire. I’ve had to develop a book keeping system. I’ve had to learn how to set prices for my services, and how to eventually change them to reflect new skills, value, and economic realities. I’ve had to learn how to do taxes as a freelancer – yick. I’ve learned about coding and SEO and other things still beyond my current scope, but not as much as they once were. But one of the most important things I never learned at school was “networking,” and I’m still learning how to do it well.
Since transitioning to freelancing full time, I’ve worked from home. For a few months I was working from a kitchen table in the middle of a central Virginia in a rural town. Now I work largely from a desk in a foreign city. I love meeting people, swapping stories and information, but chances to engage with other professionals (freelance or not) to say nothing of people are not always easy to come by.
Which is why I was thrilled that Levo League was organizing an evening of networking and negotiation training and discussion last weekend! I signed up immediately and last Thursday, off I trotted to it.
I first heard of Levo through a blogger whose skill and tenacity I admire tremendously, especially since she’s five years younger than me and already accomplishing things I find truly impressive things even though we have very different interests. Levo is a network and community of and for Millennial professional women of all stripes. They offer content and resources in the forms of articles, training, events like the one I hosted, and what they call “Office Hours,” conversations and presentations from big names in their industries like Warren Buffet, Cathy Calvin of the United Nations Foundation, Deborah Spar the President of Barnard College, and Nanette Lepore.
The event I went to was hosted next door to the Tower of London (the views were stellar) and one of the best things I’ve done in a long time. I met Maxie McCoy, a woman and writer who I’ve girl-crushed on from afar for months, who works for Levo. I bonded with the presenter, a fabulous woman in sales who taught me to think in a new way about offering value and with whom I hope to meet up with again in the future because she’s hilarious. I met students from NYU who are so ambitious, whipsmart, and capable that it’s a bit staggering. And I even met another freelancer doing amazing work with social entrepreneurship who was not just brilliant but wonderfully lovely to talk to – we’re already making plans to do some co-working when we need to get out of our home offices!
I’m really lucky to be working in a time when so many others are freelancing as well (some estimates in Britain put the numbers as 1 in 6 Britons and 1 in 5 Londoners working for themselves), and that there are communities and resources available to us. At times it’s been downright frightening to feel so out of depth this past year, but it’s also been really encouraging to find I’m able to rise to challenges with just a little help, good information, and the realization that I’m not alone in either my struggles or my triumphs.
Levo League is currently expanding in Europe (congratulations!) so hopefully there will be more of these events to look forward to – and more seriously impressive people to get to know!
(PS – nope, no one paid me to write any of this, it’s 100% gushing. Carry on.)