I’ve typed out a million ways to begin this blog post, but keep thinking just one thing – wow. I’ve attended my fair share of conferences and networking events. All normally the same: small talk by accident, heavy note taking and little communication with others.
Create & Cultivate was so much more. It felt intentional, authentic, collaborative, inclusive, accepting and inspiring – to say the least.
I had the opportunity to attend the event for the first time thanks to a mentor of mine, Maricia. I won’t forget the overwhelming amount of joy when she broke the news to me, this is a conference I’ve been wanting to attend for quite some time now. First and foremost, I want to address how extremely rewarding and fulfilling it feels to be wholeheartedly supported by people who genuinely care about your personal and professional growth. After leaving my 9 to 5 in December of 2018, I have been extremely lost in life. It hasn’t been the easiest journey, but it’s been a meaningful one. I was lucky enough to meet Maricia, Brian and the AdvertiseMint team throughout my current limbo, and have never felt so supported in such a short span of time. So thank you, not only for being incredible examples of leadership, but also for positively impacting these pivotal months in this journey of mine.
I was nervous, excited and overall jittery to attend this conference – my first true networking event alone.
I walked in not knowing what to expect, but I did know one thing – who I am. As a professional, a freelancer and overall creative. I find that when approaching these grey areas mixed into the unknown, the one thing we can be is ourselves and sure of our values, our unique skillset and our unshakeable integrity.
One of my favorite panels of the day was actually the very first one. It focused on venture capital, negotiation and boot strapping your business. While they were talking big corporate money – all that ran through my mind was the direct correlation of a young professional just breaking into the industry (much like a startup) unsure of how to establish worth and unfortunately (most likely) getting taken advantage of. I was hearing inspiring words from panelists throwing out numbers reaching around $500 million of what they were able to raise/ask for. So I thought to myself, why aren’t students being taught the potential monetary value of their work while still in school? Or even more so – why aren’t businesses taking young talent seriously by neglecting to pay them what they deserve? The gears were grinding, and man oh man was I pumped to keep listening and learning.
What resonated with me most throughout the day was as follows.
- Be real with yourself. You’re the only one truly aware of your skillset and potential. Don’t let someone else dictate who you can be by letting them decide what you’re worth.
- Ask and you shall receive. Sometimes, it’s easier to think you deserve lower pay because the fear of asking for a higher one seems to outweigh the risk. Take the risk, aim high and never compromise your worth for an opportunity. There are an abundance of jobs that will offer the same valuable experience along with fair pay.
- Never forget how powerful you are as a woman and a multifaceted professional. Take a seat at the table, take up space, disrupt the norm. Find your strength as an individual, but also recognize the strength of the collective. Support other entrepreneurs, working professionals and women in general. Collaboration > competition. Always.
I had such an amazing time connecting with other women, sharing thoughts/ideas and listening to their incredibly beautiful and inspiring stories. If I could give one piece of advice on attending a conference alone, it would be to be confident in yourself and to not let your fear paralyze you from speaking to people. But hey – if you don’t end up meeting or talking to people that’s ok too. As long as you left feeling empowered and filled with new knowledge, that’s all that matters.