Building a community of women who work in technology – hosted by Betsy Speare, Jennifer Marsman & Helene Love Snell

Archive for November, 2011

SEO Yourself… Grow Your Career and Brand with Online Advocacy

SEO = Search Engine Optimization  – so how do you make sure people see what you want them to see?  Katrina Klier’s blog post is very interesting and gives some practical tips on how to be relevant on line!    The fun part is that I made up her bio below based on what I found when I searched for HER (including the pic) – I was hoping to find some dirt, but to no avail! 

Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving – we’ll be taking a week off unless I get really motivated post-turkey to write something up – or you do! – Bets

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Betsy Speare, Principal Program Manager Lead, Windows Server Microsoft, Happy Family member, new Green Lake, Seattle Resident, 15 years at Microsoft, EWU CIS grad and chicken farmer!

What I found out about Katrina via search:

Katrina Klier is the Senior Director [for] Worldwide Digital Marketing at Microsoft.  She is the co-VP of Professional Development for IABC Seattle.  What She Does Best… Build new markets, grow channels, create brand synergy across multiple media, drive profitable growth, work with and learn from other amazing people. She is literally on every social media outlet I could think of plus some I wasn’t aware of like Quora.

PLUS – she has a GREAT BLOG!

Katrina's photo

SEO Yourself… Grow Your Career and Brand with Online Advocacy

With more than 2 billion people in the world active online, the first encounter someone has your personal brand starts with a simple online search of your name. Like it or not, your personal brand is primarily your digital brand, and further conversations with you will happen (or not) based on what people learn about you online. Advocating for yourself online is more important than ever, especially if you work in technology.

So how do you stand out? How do you advocate for yourself online? Well it is as simple as doing search engine optimization or SEO for yourself.

A few simple steps will have you on your way: Plan, Research, Engage and Focus your impact. Here’s how it works:

PLAN:

First you need to decide the top 3 things you want to be known for by anyone doing a search on your name. What are the most important things for people to know about you? List 3 things in priority order.

As an example, my list is:

1. I have an amazing track record of building new businesses with high profitability that is useful for my current and prospective employers.

2. I am an expert and executive in digital marketing and want to continue my career here.

3. I like to help people with marketing and career needs.

Your list may include all career items or a mix of career and personal items such as social or community contributions, political activities, or hobbies. There is no right or wrong answer as to what should be on your list. This is a personal choice and you are the only person qualified to make these choices for yourself. So list you top 3 things for people to know and move on to the research phase.

RESEARCH:

To improve your SEO standings you need to know where you are today, so fire up your favorite search engine and type in your name. What comes up on the first page of results? Is it populated with the many contact scraper sites that claim to have your email, phone number, etc.? Does it come back with lots of results for someone with the same name but who does things you do not want associated with your brand? Do any of the things on your top 3 list show up on page 1? Make note of the results, you will need them later on.

If you have a fairly common name, consider ways to make yourself stand out.These include using a middle initial in everything you do or using a nickname (but please nothing tacky or overly pop-culture-of-the-moment) or including a personal tag-line. The tag line is helpful if you have a unique title in your career or you own your own company.

Research the hubs of expertise and content in your top 3 list.Where are the centers of gravity online for what you want to be known for? As an individual, the fastest way to improve your SEO is to go where the traffic is. So look through the top search returns for your priorities; notice the types of sites, ways to engage on these sites and language used. True die-hard SEO has some very scientific ways to target sites and key words, most of which involve a marketing investment, but these simple steps will get you started for your personal brand. Choose no more than 3-5 target sites to focus your efforts so you avoid spreading yourself too thin in terms of both time and impact.

Using myself as an example, LinkedIn is the most prevalent professional networking site for what I do (my first priority); Twitter is a credibility booster (my second priority); and a blog is the best way to showcase original content (my third priority). So these sites became my targets to create my online center of gravity and improve my SEO.

ENGAGE:

First, go back to the search results for your name as they appear today.Look through all the links on the first 2 pages of search results and remove yourself from any lists or databases that do not support your overall top 3 list for your personal brand.

Second, go to your target sites found during your research and add yourself to the mix.Set up a profile on LinkedIn and add contacts as an example. Go all-in and be a full and active participant in these centers of gravity. Fill out your profile completely and double check all your privacy settings to make sure you are comfortable with them.

Third, create cross links in your target sites.It’s called the worldwide web for a reason and the search engines are spiders also for a reason. Spiders can’t crawl unless there is a connected web to maneuver. So… build your personal web. Create links across your profiles and content for yourself so the search engines connect you across the web.

It helps to choose a primary site or home base for yourself where you will direct the majority of searches for you. For me that meant deciding LinkedIn was the primary place I wanted to be found as it most closely supported my number one item on my list. From LinkedIn, you can find my Twitter feed and blogconnected to my profile. From my Twitter profile you’ll find a link back to my LinkedIn profile and on my blog you’ll find both my LinkedIn profile and my twitter feed again. These are my 3 target sites of my digital presence and you can get to all of them by starting at any one of them. So build your web by linking together your chosen sites and make sure you have content in these sites to support your top 3 priorities.

FOCUS:

Contribute regularly to your target sites.If you’ve cross-linked this is pretty easy to do and can be automated to a degree. As I mentioned, my Twitter feed is connected to both my LinkedIn profile and my blog so every time I tweet, the Twitter content automatically goes to LinkedIn and my blog without me having to do anything extra. If you are unsure what to contribute, start by simply forwarding or amplifying others’ content in your target sites. “Liking” or “sharing” within these sites is an easy way to introduce yourself to the community and show that you are a good community member. From there, you can add other outside content or unique content you developed yourself.

If you choose to use pictures in your profiles, make sure they are tasteful and support the brand you want to portray. Also make sure the picture quality renders well on the web and in the sites where you are profiled. This is the first intro most people will have to you so make sure it is of the highest quality. Remember the old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is very true in the online world as well.

Check your search results on a regular basis. Continue to remove yourself from places you don’t want to be. Also take note of which sites you have engaged that seem to pop you up in the search results so you continue to focus your contributions in places of impact. Over time, when someone searches for your name, you want the first page of search returns to come back with items aligned to your top 3 priorities. Other ways you can see how your SEO is progressing are through some free tools such as Klout, Identifiedand many more.

Doing a personal brand SEO effort helps you advocate for yourself and have control over what others know about you. Whether you’re looking to build your career or contribute to your community, people will find out about you first by how you show up online. I hope these tips will help you advocate for yourself and let people know what an amazing woman you are.

Good luck to you all and I’ll see you online!

Katrina

Top Attributes of Successful Sponsors… and btw, how’s that different from a mentor?

I spent last week at the Grace Hopper Conference in Portland, Oregon focused on Women in Technology. Obviously, for this blog there are number of interesting topics including Facebook’s Cheryl Sandberg’s inspirational keynote.   Sponsorship is another area that’s getting a lot of support from Corporate Executives across the industry. We talked about it quite a bit last week in Portland –  Here’s my takeaway including “top attributes of successful sponsors…”

Betsy Speare, Principal Program Manager Lead, Windows Server Microsoft, Happy Family member, new Green Lake, Seattle Resident, 15 years at Microsoft, EWU CIS grad and chicken farmer!

To follow the Women in Technology Blog – go to https://womentech.wordpress.com/feed/

In a nutshell – senior women who benefit from executive sponsorship are more likely to advance.

Jimin Li hit on Sponsorship last week in her Women Tech blog post. Catalyst published a great article on this topic in August and the discussion has just been heating up. It’s garnering attention both because it makes sense as well as it being something we can all DOto try and reverse the trend of women in tech.

At GHC I was honored to partner in a subsection in the GHC Exec Forum with Linda Apsley, Bill Laing, Teresa Lunt, Mark Hindsbo, Rico Malvar and Rane Johnson (see her blog on GHC) to discuss the wins, challenges and outcomes of sponsorship duos. I also participated on a GHC Plenary Sessionwith three sponsorship duo (think exec/senior woman) who discussed the challenges, benefits and attributes of these sponsoring partnerships. I don’t think it was planned this way – but Linda did a great job of predicting sponsorship as a HOT TOPIC at GHC and organized that session.

 

Sabina Nawaz, CEO Coach, beautifully framed the GHC Exec Forum discussion by focusing our attention on conceptualizing what is working for women in tech and how the GHC Exec Forum could commit to re-creating those wins (perspective based on book SWITCH). While it’s fresh in my mind I thought I would write up what I heard and learned in those sessions. I also have a selfish motive – the Microsoft Exec group at GHC also wants to articulate a “How To” for execs at Microsoft who are looking to sponsor Women in Tech. So – please let me know what you think, what I’m missing and how we could better improve this information for both the prospective sponsor and sponsor-ee.

What’s the difference between a sponsor and a mentor?

Mentoring is about growth, learning, working through issues and decision making.  Sponsors see your abilities and potential and look for the opportunity to champion your career.  Bill Laing characterized mentoring as generally shorter term as well as problem specific, while sponsorship is a longer term investment because additional “spotlight” might be needed to highlight accomplishments or abilities. I’m not sure it’s always that clear – although I like the idea of clarifying the difference I think there’s a bit more cross over.

What are the top attributes of successful sponsors duos for Women in Tech?

1. A Shared Passion/Goal: Share a passion for a common goal or interest that you need each other to accomplish. Examples of this included driving best practices in secure computing, driving progress via corporate women’s communities (See the Microsoft Server & Cloud Women’s Leadership Council) and increasing the percentage of women in computing (Harvey Mudd College has gone from 12% to 42%– due to an amazing sponsoring partnership).

2. Developing 2-way trust:This shared passion becomes a win-win as the sponsor is able to “amplify” the needs and requirements of the individual as well as the project/goal underway as well as depending on the sponsor-ee to represent the shared goals and vision the other direction into the team, community or industry.

3. Integrity: Being a sponsor more than an assignment – the exec knows this person and is able to give representation this person because you know who they are, what they’ve done and have a sense of their potential. It’s a genuine belief in ability and deep knowledge of proven capability of the sponsor-ee. This gives you the clear conscious to identify opportunities for the sponsor-ee not based on favoritism, but ability.

4. Chemistry:Each duo had a unique and genuine relationship based on mutual respect. It’s clear in the successful sponsor relationships we discussed today that these people liked each other.

I’m a women in tech – how do I get my own sponsor?

This is one area that isn’t so clear – currently the idea is that senior technical women (i.e. principal, director) who wish to advance their career need executive sponsorship. In my experience, I also needed a sponsor to get to the principal/director level. Iain McDonald was a great sponsor for me and continues to be recognized as a great sponsor for women at Microsoft (perhaps a blog post from you Sir Iain)? So, now do the math – take every senior technical woman that wants to make it to the executive level – there are still more of them than there are execs who are available to sponsor. So, how to get a sponsor…

1. Ask. Ask someone you admire, think you might be able to trust and someone you think could help your career progression.

2. According to Catalyst Research,“…There is no silver bullet for attracting the attention of a high-level sponsor…. Sponsorship is earned… [with] reputations as flexible, collegial professionals who are consistently committed to their own career…” so – not sure how that’s actionable but gives another perspective.

How can I be a successful sponsor-ees?

1. Articulate what your needs and goals are clearly to your sponsor. They can’t help you if they don’t know where you want to go.

2. Don’t hide mistakes/failures – be open and honest. The funny thing is that we always think people are not aware of our faults. Usually, we’re the last to know our own “defects.” In the cases of mistakes – Sponsors on the panel encouraged us to be open and transparent about mistakes and what we’ve learned from them.

3. A question for the GHC Plenary panel asked how to deal with jealousy, accusations of favoritism or special treatment. The answer was two-fold – the first was really about the integrity of the relationship (see #3 in previous section) and the second was to be confident in your sponsorship relationship – ignore jealousy and accusations of “special treatment – ” they should get over it.

So, think of this as V1 – we’re just learning how to capture the ideas and make it actionable broadly. Looking forward to your ideas and suggestions on what might work here!

Seeking Success as a Technical Woman: Sponsors make the difference

I am so lucky to know Jimin!  Smart, compassionate, genuine and determined, she is an inspiration to everyone who knows her.  I love her post this week because it hits on a key success pivot – Sponsorship.  This is different from mentoring.    Mentoring is about growth, learning, working through issues and decision making.  Sponsors see your abilities and potential and look for the opportunity to champion your career.  Next, we need some posts on finding a sponsor and how you can create those relationships that make a difference.  Any volunteers?  Some sponsor focused resources… if we care about retaining mid-level women in technical careers (and we do), this NCWIT overview gives some good big picture approaches.  I also really like this article Deb McFadden has been passing around on why “Sponsorship is Key to Women’s Success.”  Love the comments and if you want to write a blog post regarding Women in Tech, send it me! Now – on to Jimin…   – Bets

 

Betsy Speare, Principal Program Manager Lead, Windows Server Microsoft, Happy Family member, new Green Lake, Seattle Resident, 15 years at Microsoft, EWU CIS grad and chicken farmer!

To follow the Women in Technology Blog – go to https://womentech.wordpress.com/feed/

 

Author:  Jimin Li, Principal Program Manager Lead, Window Web Services, Microsoft. Mom of 3 lovely kids, 17 years in US and 15 years at Microsoft, happily working on Windows 8, Tsinghua and UMN CS alumni!

JiminPic

Have you ever had a feel that your career seems at plateau for a while, or wonder why some of your colleagues seemingly moved much faster in their career? Honestly –  I’ve run into both situations in the past. I entered Microsoft as a college hire 15 years ago, and I have worked in different roles from test to PM, and from an individual contributor to a manager. When these situations happen, I’ve wondered how to push my career forward, especially as a woman? I want to share some thoughts this, and they are based on what I learned from a number of successful senior women in Microsoft, and some from my own experience.

First of all, we deserve to remind ourselves of how great we are:  being a woman in technology and fulfilling multiple roles on a daily basis as a co-worker, daughter, friend, mom, wife, and so on.  Often I wish there were 48 hours a day to juggle between the responsibilities among these different roles!

Second, as much as prioritization and work/life balance effort we are putting in, in order to push your career forward, the classic and basic rule is always: work hard!   A couple of quotes from some very successful women leaders: “Work harder and be smarter than my male colleagues!” “As a woman I can’t think of anything special I did to push my career forward other than just work really, really hard and make sure that I demonstrate an equal footing to the other “type A’s” at MS”. I agree with “work smarter, but not harder”, but I don’t think there is any shortcut of not working hard if you want to get to higher career level than where you are now.

What are some of the key accelerators in the career growth? It should not be a surprise to you: good sponsors and good opportunities. I talked to a few women who are senior directors or GMs. They all had some great executive who helped them to move their career to the next level and invested the effort of keeping them occupied with new and challenging tasks. With such sponsorship, they have more access to  good opportunities – it’s not free, of course, they also had to  work hard to prove themselves and  meet those high expectations.  Another comment – they had to be open to try new roles and take chances… and sometimes that role had no clear definition or boundaries.

Depending on what career stage you are at, you should learn to identify and look for the right sponsor for yourself. When I have career development discussion with my direct reports, we always talk about how to identify the web of their stakeholders who may have key impact on their performance evaluation. That’s mostly based on the current commitments they have, and my team found it quite useful. Regarding the sponsors, you have to be forward looking and be more strategic. Depending on what you like to do in next 1-2 years, it can be your own manager, your manager’s peers, some cross team managers who know your work well, or some previous manager that you had worked with. In my own case, after I was promoted to principal test manager, I felt next career stage as a test director was a little too far and not that thrilling to me, I talked to one of my skip level manager’s peers and she became my sponsor. I then joined her team and started my Program Management career. One more important note, after establishing the sponsorship, it should not take too long for you to figure out whether the sponsor is the right one you need. I would say 6-12 months is a good checkpoint.

As part of pushing our career forward, changing roles may come to mind to become an option. One rule of thumb is: don’t change if you are happy with where you are. Happiness is pretty hard to define and measure, especially for me as a woman. My manager, a woman and a partner GPM, shared her thoughts. Her point of view is that everyone should define a threshold of being happy. For her, given the challenges in work, her job satisfaction is maintained if she can be happy at overall 75% of time or above. This is particularly helpful when you feel down occasionally at work – try to take it as “it’s just one of those days” rather than using those days to judge your overall happiness about work. Relate to changes, my woman mentor also inspired me to think about career as a 30 year career. It helps me put a lot of things into perspective and be more strategic in driving up my career, including how to look at some temporary plateau in career with a positive attitude. Once you determine that you want to change, take an action and have a plan. Start to network and find opportunities, find a sponsor!

I hope this helps as a refresher, and I would love to hear what you think.

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