How do you start a meeting of the minds with five, phenomenal women who are self-made success stories by their own terms? You start with mimosas and hors d'oeuvres.
It was a set for lovely, queens chat indeed. Publicist, Tavia Mapp-Deterville hosted "The Future is Female Fireside Chat," which featured special guests, Terri Abney of "Greenleaf," Nessie Blaze of "Black Ink Crew: Compton," Singer/Songwriter Lyrica Anderson, and Dimplez THE digital marketing strategist and founder of IJEOMA. The women sat down and gave us insight on their humble beginnings and tips on how to be successful when starting a new business from the ground up.
Is there a big difference between having followers and enagagement? According to Dimplez, "YES." Engagement is everything. She said "It's great to have a million followers; however, if only 30 people like your posts/ or are commenting, the followers won't be worth much. You need engagement." She continued, "Let's say you "only" have 100 followers, but they are constantly liking and commenting; they then become a walking billboard for you. They will essentially rock your brand and make your following even bigger because they believe in you." According to Lyrica Anderson, engagement is important as well. She would know. Starring on "Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood," where she gained a fan base and her album, "Bad Hair Day" debuting with 16 million streams. She attributes her success to "engaging with fans, sharing her personal story, and connecting with them through music." Terri Abney also concurred, saying that she "consistenly responds to DMs an emails," trying to really connect with her fan base. Most recently, she chooses to engage with the communities of people that were depressed or suicidal due to the current conditions and received hundreds of DMs from those elated she contributed to and put a healthy spin on the conversation. Nessie spoke of how she orginally moved to Los Angeles with $300 to her name, and used social media to launch her career as an artist.
Do you engage in the drama online/trolls in your comments? According to the ladies, sometimes the negative comments can get to you and that is okay. When you are popular to any extent, people feel like they know you and your life. They will comment anything that is on their minds. They feel entitled to your life. It comes with the territory. Never forget, you can also feel free to tastefully gather someone together; however, every comment doesn't deserve a response.
How do you negotiate your just due? According to Dimplez, "if it's something that's going to cause you stress, you add tax." She also added, "you should have three numbers in mind; take into account how many hours you want to work for the week. The first number should be your bottome line/what you need to make ends meet. The second number should be what you need to live comfortably. The third number should be where you want to be realistically. She continued, "Say your expenses are $1000 a month, but to save and do everything you want to do you need $2000 a month and you only want to work 15hrs a week. You would take $2000 divided by 15, divided by 4 and that would give you what you need to make hourly to get the number you want." When it comes to negotiation, she said, "the person comes back with a lower figure, you would have a little wiggle room to bargain with because it's still above the $1000. Also, keep in mind specifically what you are doing. If it's a relationship or position that you have spent years developing, you have earned the right to charge extra, because you have paid dues and you can put a price on that."
How do you reach back to pull up other women? Dimplez hires minorities, immigrants and women for both businesses and also has internships. Lyrica juggles family, but writes music for several artists and one day hopes to sign new artists to her label. Terri mentors aspiring female actresses and has an open-door policy for anyone aspiring to be in the industry. Tavia mentors and works with women; showing them the ropes of being a publicist as well.
The ladies also spoke about the importance of bartering and making sure you have contracts in writing. Lyrica contributed to the lyrics for the successful "S.O.S." song by Rihanna, yet didn't receive any form of payment for it. This taught her to make sure she checked her paperwork before commiting to any project. She also spoke about knowing when you are getting paid and deciding what terms work for you. "In the industry, you sometimes will not get an advance. You could be working on a project that may have a payout months from you commiting and completing the work. If you are okay with those terms it's fine, but know the terms," she says. Nessie elaborated on utilizing the bartering system when you are trying to build or gain relationships. She said "It's important to know what you bring to the table and it doesn't always have to be money; sometimes you need to leave an impact or gain a connection. All industries are relationship based, so understand the importance of giving value and gaining more and then some in return."
This event was simply empowering. We learned many nuggets; and more importantly, there is no cookie cutter way to success. Success involves hard work and tenacity. It also, involves you taking a giant leap of faith and believing in your support group to champion you through your stages of growth. Tavia, Dimplez, Lyrica, Terri, and Nessie have already left their imprints on the world and they are just getting started.
I hope this inspires you to move on whatever dreams you have stored in your heart. You may fail, but you will fail forward. In the words of our forever First Lady Michelle Obama, "Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude."