Founder of Lillie Mae Public Relations firm, Â talks how empowering others to succeed helps her career
There is a growing market for producing inspirational, educational, and entrepreneurial events that empower people to reach their greatest potential. According to the New York Times, “In an era where people flock to Facebook to find friends or communicate solely via text, a growing niche of entrepreneurs is building businesses that help people meet the old-fashioned way: in person.” From large-scale conferences to small brunches and after work mixers, these events present an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs to not only spread awareness about their brand but also make a profit from event fees.
This couldn’t be truer for North Carolina nativeÂ Lillie Mae, Founder and CEO ofÂ Lillie Mae Public Relations, and self-published author of Glambitious and The PR Code. “Through my empowerment mixers, I’ve made invaluable connections with female influencers and brands in each city.Â By significantly expanding my network, my brand visibility has increased and other opportunities have emerged for exciting partnerships and new projects,”Â says Lillie Mae.
After hosting events for various charities in Atlanta she decided to hit the road to launch empowerment mixers in Atlanta, New York, Washington, DC, North Carolina and South Carolina.
With Ford Motor Company sponsoring the official tour vehicle and one even attracting over 100 people, Black Enterprise caught up with Lillie to find out what it takes to attract sponsors and execute events that connect like minded people.
Can you describe the defining moment when you decided to turn your your “Glambitious” vision into reality?
Glambitious means having a strong desire and determination to succeed while projecting inherent beauty and enchantment.Â I began hosting my “Glambitious” empowerment mixers last year to benefit various charities in Atlanta and spotlight women that were successful at pursuing their passions.Â Numerous attendees shared with me that the mixers were very inspiring and this made me want to create empowerment experiences for women around the world as well.
I felt that the easiest way to reach people globally would be to release a book that includes introspective dialogue, motivational quotes and action items to help them achieve their dreams. The next step would be to go on tour and meet them!
One of your events attracted over 100 attendees. What does it takes to scout event locations, coordinate panelist and execute events in different states?
First, I research other events in each city that are similar to my mixer. This insight alloww me to locate venue options. Then, I invite ladies that have exciting professional accomplishments, so that the attendees can gain insight from their journeys and experiences.
I also involve a number of event partners, vendors, panelists, hosts and event ambassadors to help generate exposure of that particular event.Â The major lesson here is toÂ alwaysÂ find creative ways to incorporate other businesses and tastemakers with your projects.
What steps did you take to get sponsorship from such well-known brands like Ford, Exclusive Vodka, etc.? Can you give us 2-3 pitch strategies for landing sponsors?
I started the process by reaching out to brands that I have existing relationships with including Exclusive Vodka, Voscato, Brand 201, Dimensioned Wellness, The Single Wives Club, Thirty 27 Boutique, The Lewis Agency and Positive Influence Coaching.Â This paved the way for the immense brand support I received for my tour. Here are some additional tips:
- Make sure you are pitching the correct person; this increases your chances of a timely response. Â Google and LinkedIN are truly the power couple for researching business contacts.
- Create a sponsorship package that is clean, professional, and brief and answers all of their potential questions.
- Specify the reason for your pitch early on in the email, and keep the pitch short.Â Brand Executives are constantly being pitched and may not have the time to read through an extensive email.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
You can pursue business ownership while enjoying the comforts of steady pay from your 9-5 job.Â Don’t rush into this prematurely — enjoy the inexpensive health insurance while you can! Managing your own schedule sounds glamorous, but most entrepreneurs work at least 12 hours a day and weekends.Â Sacrifices include missing baby showers, weddings, football games and more. Additionally:
- Be sure to separate your personal phone from your business phone, and set boundaries with clients regarding the time of their communication with you.
- Increase your rainy day funds to assure you can ride the wave during the slow business seasons.
- Consult with an accountant, tax advisor and lawyer to assure your company is set up and managed correctly before you begin operating the business.
- Be aware that at a 9-5 job, you can look forward to a tax refund, however as an entrepreneur you will likely owe taxes if your business is doing well.Â A tax advisor can definitely offer advice on the best ways to prepare tax returns.
While hosting events in different states, you’re also managing a business. Can you give our readers any time management tips?
Teamwork definitely makes the dream work, so having a reliable staff has been imperative to managing my tour and clients.
If your staff is small, contact a local University to hire experienced interns. Every morning I list the top 3-5 goals for myself and each client, so that I can assure the team is working on priority projects only.Â I also use a personalizedÂ Erin Condren life planner that allows me to organize my day by the hour, the week and the month.
Kandia Johnson (@kandiajohnson) is a communications strategist, writer, and world traveler. She is dedicated to empowering audiencesÂ to tap into their hidden potentialÂ to achieve success.Â Driven by a passion to help people and organizations turn vision into reality, Johnson creates content that educates, engages, and inspires.