Ever since Vanessa Wade was a teenager she had dreamed of being featured in Black Enterprise Magazine. Well for the 32-year-old entrepreneur Public Relations Specialist that dream has become reality.
Wade is one of the featured women on the cover titled Incredible Women of Power which is to hit newsstands sometime in early spring 2014.
“I picked up my first issues of Black Enterprise when I was in high school. I told my friend oh, I want to be in this magazine. I want to be on the cover. So now to be in there it’s a really good thing and it started with me pitching them ideas about eight or 10 months ago. As well as following them on Twitter and Facebook and making comments. They reached out to me and asked, ‘As a black business owner how do you help the black community?’ That was an opportunity for me to say well I partnered up with African American or minority organizations and give them a business check-up to see how they are doing enhancing their businesses. They even sent someone out to my office to do a photo shoot. Now I am looking forward for the issue to come out,” said Wade.
Wade says professionalism is one of the main keys to a successful business, and she finds that some African American businesses can fall short in that area by becoming a little too comfortable with their clients.
“We can become too friendly and professionalism goes out of the window. The ‘hey honey’ and ‘hey boo’ is not the greetings to be used by business owners. It’s okay to be approachable and friendly but business owners must be professional because if you are too friendly then people feel they have free range and do not have to pay you. It’s just best to keep it professional,” said Wade.
She also encourages her clients not to give up so easily and that people pay attention when you are doing a good job. Wade says, some business owners can become impatient and figure that their dreams are dashed if nothing happens in two weeks after any kind of investment.
“I work with them and tell them to keep at it. Someone will recognize their efforts,” said Wade.
Wade has a top client list and has been quite successful in her approach to assisting authors, attorneys, entertainers, athletes, non-profits and business owners to take the limits off and be patient. “I start with the basics. Sometimes great success and going to the next level can happen quickly but in most instances it takes some time. I encourage my clients not to give up so easily. And that people pay attention when you are doing a good job. Entrepreneurs can sometimes become impatient and figure that their dreams are dashed if nothing happens in two weeks after any kind of investment.
“I worked with them and tell them to keep at it. Someone will recognize their efforts, and someone always does,” she said.
Wade has been in public relations for a little over 10 years. She launched her own agency, Connect the Dots Public Relations in 2006.
“I was in a job I didn’t like. I was under the impression from the job description that I would be a communications specialist but I was actually getting coffee and setting up rooms. I was on the outside looking in, not doing anything public relations related. But I even learned from that experience. Even though you have the ability and skills sometimes you have to start on the ground floor. I just kept at it and one day someone came to me and said, ‘hey, I am getting ready to start a business and I need a letter.’ I wrote the letter and they were like wow this is really good, this is perfect,” she recalled.
Wade’s dreams almost became dash as she battled a severe Sickle Cell Anemia crisis. At the time, she was living in the Washington, D.C. area where her sister was also living. Business was good. Then one day, she experienced a terrible pain in her leg and broke out in huge boils on every part of her body, and could barely walk.
“My sister took me to the doctor. I was hunched over in terrible pain. I walked into the doctor’s office and immediately everyone got up and started to leave. I thought wow, ‘I would never do anyone like this.’ The doctor started giving me all types of medication for the pain, and told me I had Bronchitis. I did inform him that I had Sickle Cell Anemia. For some reason there is a stigma associated with Sickle Cell Anemia patients. Medical personnel treat you like you are a drug addict. He just prescribed all of this medication and told me I should get better.
Wade’s sister had to leave her at the doctor’s office so she could get to work. Wade called a friend to pick her up but forewarned her on her condition-the way she looked. She said when her friend arrived to pick her up, she started screaming and crying.
“Oh my God,” my friend cried out. I told her that I still was not feeling well and to take me to the hospital. She did. At the hospital they gave me more medication and I told the nurses that I think it was too much because I was feeling worse and very loopy. The next thing, I passed out,” said Wade.
Her conditioned had worsen and she had to be airlifted to another hospital. She had problems breathing and her body felt like it was shutting down.
“I felt like I was dying, I could even hear the inflight medical staff express concerns about my condition,” said Wade.
When Wade finally arrived at the hospital she was unconsciousness. Once she woke, she saw her sister crying, a minster trying to console her sister and people praying.
“I thought I had surgery because I was in so much pain. Seven nurses were working on me. They told me that I didn’t have surgery. Come to find out the combination of medication that was administered to me had lowered my blood pressure to a lethal level. As a result of this crisis, my legs were damaged and I could not walk. I could not do anything for myself. I even had to wear a diaper. Things you don’t think about when you are 29-years-old. We are taught to be vibrant and unstoppable,” she said.
Wade said she would pray to God that if life was not going to get any better she did not want to wake up. Her health didn’t get better right away but she just changed her perspective.
“What turned that terrible situation around for me was the support of friends, church, the way I started thinking. For instance, I would say what is the one thing I can feel good about today? What is the one job I can get to today? Who is the one person, I encourage today?” she said.
Wade’s story is somewhat like that of the story of Job in the Bible who had it all, lost it all, suffered with poor health and had it all restored. Well today, Vanessa Wade is walking tall, looking beautiful with flawless skin and has a profitable public relations firm in Houston, TX that is taking her clients to the next level.