The social network: 70% social, 30% network

I wrote a story on my awesome friend, Emma Levine from Newcastle Creative Agency, The Village of Useful. This story originally appeared in the Newcastle Herald. Click this link to see the story with the pretty pictures, or just read below!

EMMA Levine is fast becoming one of Newcastle’s young movers and shakers.

From her “Fondalicious” Jane-Fonda-style aerobics class run every Monday, to a wine-loving women’s marketing group, the 27-year-old keeps things moving.

Working full-time as an account manager at creative agency The Village of Useful, Levine probably has more ideas than she does time – but she works inventively, and makes the most of every moment.

Recently she was a finalist in the Newcastle Herald Smart Ideas competition, in which she advocated an inner-city network of late-night food trucks selling everything from New York-style pizza to hand-churned ice-cream. Aims included reducing intoxication by offering food, boosting non-alcohol-related foot traffic, increasing safety and boosting employment and the night-time economy.

Levine is about to celebrate a year of 70:30, a marketing group she created for women who work in communications, and love wine.

The idea grew out of the fact that Levine kept coming across wonderful would-be PR and marketing types, applying for jobs online at The Village of Useful. (The company’s website invites open applications, whether there are jobs or not).

She’d also met women working in similar fields, and been to networking events that left her feeling unfulfilled. She was keen to talk marketing with like-minded women, but also let the networking move into personal areas as well.

“In my search to find similar people, I attended network events, but I was not their target audience,” Levine says.

“I wanted to expand my social network, they wanted to expand their professional network. So I thought we should start a club.”

Levine says her inspiration struck this time last year, and she created a private group on Facebook to get things going. Anyone who becomes a member can invite others, and while the group was primarily created for women, men are welcome. “But they’re likely to be bored,” she says.
The Facebook groups is described as “a regular meet-up of young Newcastle women in the marketing and communication industry. As opposed to the usual networking brunches and industry groups, 70:30 is mostly just about making friends and hanging out. It’s 70 per cent social, 30 per cent business. It’s OK to talk shop, but that’s not really the point.

When Levine held the first meeting, a small group of women came together and drank wine, occasionally bringing up work, but mostly just getting to know each other.

But now Levine says, because of 70:30, her professional network is expanded as well.

As the group’s first birthday approaches, PR freelancer and member Kristi Frame rallied members to reminisce about how they came together.

She wrote on Facebook: “It is almost a year ago that my gorgeous friend Eva Mckenzie mentioned coming along to a drinks night held at the newly opened Red Baron bar, to meet some like-minded people who were passionate about helping others in our field, network a little, but most importantly – drink wine.

“There were less than 10 of us who attended on that cold night, when our beloved 70:30 group was born.”

Since then, the gang of girls has gallivanted to venues throughout Newcastle for coffee, dinner, and of course wine, including a BYO evening at The Roost Creative, a freelancing space in the Hunter Street mall where several of the group work.

In addition to the small talk, the page has also helped members with queries they have about their work, events and even new jobs.

“When I have an opportunity, the first place I think of is the people I’ve met through 70:30,” Levine says. “It’s also a place to ask advice without looking incompetent.”

And there have been personal perks, too, including free concert tickets that would otherwise go wanting.

Some of the original members have now left Newcastle for job opportunities in Sydney.

“I love to see Newcastle’s talent tearing it up in Sydney,” Levine says.

She also knows Newcastle needs more talented people to stay, as they’ll make room for more local opportunities.

As 70:30 continues to grow, she’d love to see more full-time professionals and students have a drink and get involved.

“Maybe not everybody who comes to 70:30 will be friends, but friendship is an amazing byproduct,” Levine says.

Interested women can seek her out at The Village of Useful, email emma@thevillageofuseful.com.au.

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