2016-03

SEO & Marketing

March 14, 2016

SEOHave you ever wondered about the correlation between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content marketing? For many, SEO is a misunderstood marketing strategy and often overlooked. In an effort to address the many ways in which SEO could improve your site’s ranking, a recent NYWICI Twitter Chat hosted SEO expert Mandy Fredenhagen (@MFredenhagen). Mandy has been in the SEO industry for the last 6 years and is currently VP Global Digital Marketing at Citi, managing global SEO across 24 countries.

To begin, “there are 5 key areas that make up SEO,” says Mandy.

  1. Keyword research strategy
  2. Content strategy
  3. On-page optimization
  4. Technical SEO 
  5. Link building or development

“A keyword research strategy should consist of making a list of important topics that are relevant to your business,“says Mandy. “Then utilize the Google keyword planner to find out what keywords users are searching for. Once you have a list of keywords to target with your content efforts, monitor and measure your efforts.”

When it comes to SEO optimization, content is key. “Content should be optimized for SEO and brands should produce new content. Search engines LOVE fresh content. Find out what searchers are searching for through the Google keyword planner and give it to them! Produce evergreen content.”

Steps to boost SEO

  1. Conduct a SEO audit to find technical issues hindering search engines from efficiently crawling & indexing your website.
  2. Improve on-page optimization across your site. This will include page titles, meta-descriptions, heading tags and body content.
  3. Conduct a content audit and identify content gaps or missed opportunities.
  4. Build backlinks naturally through content creation.

SEO Strategies for 2016

  • Make sure your website is mobile friendly. Check to see if your website is mobile friendly through Google's mobile friendly tool test
  • At some point, move your website to HTTPS (secure transfer protocol)
  • Social content will gain more presence in search results. The larger your social authority and footprint, the more it will impact your SEO.

With any marketing strategy, don’t expect immediate results. According to Mandy, it is paramount that “leaders realize that SEO efforts won’t produce results tomorrow. SEO is a long-term, ongoing investment that requires effort and patience.”

Read the full transcript of this Twitter Chat.

Posted by: 
Rodeena Stephens

Balancing Work & Family

March 9, 2016

Four smart working women shared their thoughtful ideas and advice at a NYWICI Cocktails & Conversations panel discussion on “Balancing Work and Family,” held March 8, 2016, at The New York Times offices.

Valerie M. Grubb, HR consultant, executive trainer and coach at Val Grubb & Associates, Ltd. moderated the lively discussion, and the panelists — Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch; Jennifer Owens, editorial director at Working Mother Media; Neha Sangwan, internal medicine physician and corporate communication consultant at Intuitive Intelligence —  not only talked about how to balance work and child or elder care obligations, they also delved into the issue of overall work-life balance.

Here are some highlights of the discussion:

If you’re interviewing for a job while pregnant but not showing

  • Let them get to know and like you before telling them about the pregnancy but do it before you get the offer. Learn about their benefits and negotiate for what you need. (Jennifer)

If you interview for a job knowing that you need flexibility

  • I lived this. Once I knew they were interested in me, I let them know that I had to leave on time to pick up my kids. You’re just asking for an accommodation. (Jennifer)
  • Know what you want. Don’t apply for full-time and then ask for 15 hours/week. But if you can do a full week, though not on the traditional office schedule, raise the issue after expressing interest in the job. Stress that you just want to adjust where or when you work, not reduce your hours. (Carol)

If you’re a mom who needs help but doesn’t want to ask for it

  • Lower your standards. Try getting your family to contribute more. (Carol)
  • Know what you value — for example, is it a clean house or your own exhaustion? And know what gives you energy and what drains you. (Neha)

If you need to broach the issue of caregiving with your boss

  • Performing well as an employee is key. If you are, approach your boss so you can work it out together. (Valerie)
  • Know that the only legal protection for you is the FMLA. There’s no legal requirement for flex time or child or elder care programs. It’s all up to the individual employer. (Jennifer)

If you‘re not a family caregiver but need flexibility nevertheless

  • We’re beginning to value performance more than time in the office so, if you’re performing well, tell your boss that even though you don’t have kids, etc., you need flexibility to deal with things in your life too. (Valerie)
  • If everyone is using flex policies, then it becomes more a part of the company culture and less of a “working mother ghetto issue.” (Jennifer)

If you’re stressed by the work/life balancing act

  • Don’t let stress get to the point where your work is compromised. If it’s time for a career break, leave on a high note so it’s easier to return. (Carol)
  • Just breathe and you’ll feel a release from stress. Be present in your body. (Neha)

Read our tweets during the event and view excerpts on Periscope. You may also be interested in reading a transcript of a past NYWICI Twitter Chat on the same topic, Work/Life Balance, our interview with panelist Dr. Neha Sangwan, as well as our interview with the moderator, Valerie M. Grubb.


Moderator:

Valerie M. Grubb, HR consultant, executive trainer and coach at Val Grubb & Associates, Ltd. (@ValGrubb). Read our interview with her here.

Panelists: 
Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch (@iRelaunch)

Jennifer Owens, editorial director at Working Mother Media (@working_mother

Neha Sangwan, internal medicine physician and corporate communication consultant at Intuitive Intelligence (@drnehasangwan). Read our interview with her here.

 

Slideshow images: Jan Goldstoff and members of the audience.

Posted by: 
Robbie McKeon

Work/Life Balance Starts with a Strong Core

March 3, 2016

Val GrubbWe caught up with Valerie M. Grubb, the moderator of NYWICI’s Cocktails & Conversations event “Balancing Work and Family" this evening, March 8, 2016, at The New York Times. Val Grubb is the president of Val Grubb & Associates.

Val Grubb & Associates assists both large-and medium-sized companies to create a more inclusive culture for employees of all ages and personal situations. Val has a wealth of experience both from the many companies she’s consulted for and from her personal experience caring for an aging parent. 

Athletes and dancers know that the key to maintaining good balance is having a strong core (abdominal and lower back muscles). In speaking with Val, it became clear that the key to maintaining work/life balance is also having a strong core: good self-care, good instincts and a good work ethic. 

What advice do you have for people who may be struggling with competing career and family demands?

  • Go easy on yourself: As difficult as this sounds, you’ve really got to take care of yourself first before dealing with the kids or your parents. This is something women are typically horrible at doing, as we have a tendency to put everyone else before ourselves. The airplane face mask analogy comes to mind here. It’s hard to maintain a positive outlook on life or have positive interactions with your kids or aging parents if you’re sick or exhausted.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff: Let the house go, let the dishes go, let the cleaning go. It’s alright if the house is dusty. Turn your underwear inside out so you can get more uses. Or don’t wear any at all! There is only so much time in your day so don’t stress over the laundry.
  • Don’t feel you have to go it alone: Silence the voice in your head that says you’re not good enough or that you are a failure. I often hear from friends who feel like they’re ‘failing’ if they have someone help them. As your kids get older, make them pitch in. If you can afford it, hire help: babysitting services, cleaning services, errand people — what things on your list could you pay someone else to do? I also assign tasks to my brother, and make sure I don’t bitch or obsess over the fact that he may do something differently than I would. 
  • Maximize your time: My mom lives in Indiana, and I typically fly in once a month to deal with “stuff” in her personal life (doctors' appointments, ensuring that she’s taking her medications, managing her house, etc.). Since I fly so frequently, I got myself a credit card that lets me access the airline’s lounge — this way, I can get quality work done while I’m waiting for my flight. It’s a small thing, but it’s seriously life-saving, as it helps me to keep up with everything.

Having consulted with many HR departments, are there ways that women can better position themselves when it comes to asking for time off or flex hours to take care of family demands?

  • Make yourself indispensable: I hate to say it, but you’re better off if you’re a great performer who needs some accommodation. Be a great performer — one who has a skill set that your boss needs, and he or she will likely be more accommodating when it comes to working out a schedule with you. As a communication coach, I often help people craft difficult conversations they need to have with their employer. However, well-crafted communication will not work in a situation if you are not an effective or respected performer.
  • Come with solutions. If you need to drop to half a work day, how will the other half of your day be covered?  What solutions can you offer your boss? Don’t dump the “problem” and expect her/him to solve it — come prepared with how to make it work.

What about when you are applying for a new job? How can you assess if the company will support the type of work/life balance you’re looking for?

Only after you are their #1 candidate or have made it through a couple of interview rounds is it appropriate to ask about work/life balance. Once you’ve established your work credentials and how much of a rock star you are, then it’s time to find out if this employer would be a good fit for you. Here are some great questions to ask:

  • How do you support work/life balance for your employees? (Ask HR and your potential manager directly)
  • What is the typical workload? Are there enough employees in the department to get the job done?
  • What sort of projects may require me to find after-hours assistance? How often do these sorts of projects come up?
  • Be sure to ask about email expectations. If you send an email at 9 pm, do you expect a response that evening or is answering in the morning sufficient?

 

— Robyn Hatcher

You might also be interested in reading an interview with one of the panelists at the event, Dr. Neha Sangwan, as well as the transcript of a recent NYWICI Twitter Chat on Work/Life Balance, with co-host Julie Livingston.

A Prescription For Work/Life Balance

March 1, 2016

Dr. Neha SangwanWe caught up with Dr. Neha Sangwan, a panelist at NYWICI’s upcoming Cocktails & Conversations event “Balancing Work and Family”, on March 8, 2016, at The New York Times (register online below). Neha, M.D., COE and founder of Intuitive Intelligence, is an internal medicine physician, international speaker and corporate communication expert.

Neha's focus is on empowering people toward better health by teaching them effective communication tools to reduce stress, improve health and strengthen relationships.

How do you define work/life balance?
I don’t see the two as being separate. If I am stressed at home, it influences how I perform at work. If I am stressed at work, it influences how I feel at home. I see it as a continuum of a human’s life.

As a physician, a teacher and a speaker, how do you manage your own work/life balance?
As an entrepreneur, it is especially challenging. I have learned to delegate. There is no need to do everything myself. I also believe in the biological rhythm of the world — my phone is off between 10pm-7am. In the past, I violated my biological rhythm, which led to burnout. Now I make sure I get the rest and nourishment I need, especially when I am travelling — I try to fly on airlines that offer the best food options.

What do you think needs to happen in order to make work/life balance more achievable?
With technology, we have reached a pace that is nearly impossible to keep up. It is a constant battle between self and other. We have a deep desire to belong and to be respected in our profession as well as in the roles we take on in our personal lives. The pressure to prove our worthiness drives us to put the well-being of others before our own. Before we can do anything, we have to understand what our values are, so that we can decide what needs to take priority. Instead of work/life balance, I call it self/other balance.

What can we do to better manage our life?
There are a number of actions we can take. Communication is key.

  1. Values. We need to find out what they are. Find three things you value most in a person you admire. Likely, the values you admire in this person are some of your highest values, as well.
  2. Inspiration or obligation. For seven days, keep a list of tasks, interactions and people. Write down how they made you feel. What are some the physical signals you are experiencing? You may feel tight in the chest or you may experience a headache right after your meeting. Your body will tell you if something gives you energy or drains your energy. The experience is either an inspiration or an obligation. At the end of the week, reflect on the pattern. If you keep making decisions that drain your energy, you are not in alignment with your highest values. It is then up to you to find an acceptable balance.
  3. Boundaries. Your “yes” doesn’t mean anything until you learn to say “no.” In order to be successful, you have to learn to say “no.”
  4. Get curious not serious. Don’t waste your energy making assumptions. We run all kinds of stories in our head. We judge people or ourselves for things that may or may not have been said or happened. Make an effort to stick to the facts. Know where you end and where another person begins.
  5. Honor yourself. To reach your highest potential you have to be able to hear the voice of your own heart a little louder than you can hear the voices of others.

In following these simple strategies, you will find that it becomes easier to achieve work/life balance.

Neha earned a B.S. in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering from Michigan State University. She attended medical school at State University of New York at Buffalo and completed her Internal Medicine residency training at Temple University Hospital. Neha worked in the hospital for over a decade before physical problems forced her to slow down and take a closer look at the cause of her personal health struggles. Neha found her true calling when she recognized the connection between her symptoms and her inability to communicate clearly with herself and others. This insight led to the founding of Intuitive Intelligence, her private practice and corporate consulting firm, where she integrates the science of medicine and the art of communication to empower her clients to improve their health as well as their productivity.

— Louise Vyent

You might also be interested in reading an interview with the moderator of the event, Valerie M. Grubb, as well as the transcript of a recent NYWICI Twitter Chat on Work/Life Balance, with co-host Julie Livingston.