The Lakeland Mirror

Lakeland women turn out for SOAR

From left to right: Moderator Leslie Laster, Lakeland graduate 1998, MAC 2010, Guidance Counselor, Horace Mann Middle School; Wendy Strout, Lakeland graduate 1994, Wisconsin Campaign Coordinator, AFL-CIO; Shannon Riha, Lakeland graduate 2006, Chemistry Lecturer, UW-Stevens Point.

Karalee Manis, Managing Editor

At the latest gathering for SOAR: Professional Women of Lakeland College, held on Saturday, April 9, current students, staff, faculty, graduates and community members came together at the college for a day of networking and personal and professional development.

The day started with Keynote Speaker, Kimberly Nygard, who graduated from Lakeland in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and again in 2013 from the Green Bay Center with her MBA. Nygard has worked as a financial accountant for Schreiber Foods in Green Bay for the past seven years.

Nygard’s presentation was titled “What Goes into Building a Personal Brand?” and she went over key points in what this means for a person.

The goal in this is that you want to be the person someone thinks of when an issue or something comes up. For example, if you are in one department and someone from another department needs help from your department, it is you specifically that you want them to think of based off their prior experience with you.

Nygard then began to highlight key points in how one can build their brand, which are listed below:

  • Who you know: this circle can be expanded by networking, going to company functions, building relationships, getting involved, helping someone out who may then later help you, even by understanding another’s viewpoint.
  • What you know: you need to show that you can provide value through your knowledge base and that you are willing to learn more. You can also demonstrate your value here by asking questions, thereby proving you want to learn and showing you have value. By continually learning and showing your company what you have learned, and never settling in your knowledge, you will prove your value.
  • Become an expert: this can be displayed in many ways, one of which is through ownership. You need to own what you do and be able to do what you say you can and what is expected of you. Again, you need to be willing to learn and ask more to better yourself in your position. You should look for improvements in your role so that you can do your job better, which can also lead you to finding your niche within your role. Having an area of expertise will also lead people to seek you out with questions, making you a more valuable member of the company.
  • Take on opportunities: you should be willing to take advantage of opportunities when they come. Building your brand sometimes means expanding your horizons, so take risks and jump in when such opportunities come up. If you don’t, you might not be asked or presented with the option in the future if you turn one down now.

Nygard ended her presentation with some additional words of advice, telling those in attendance, “It’s okay to fail,” but to learn from those mistakes. She again reiterated just how important it is to be willing to learn.

After a short break, the next presentation was a panel discussion. The key topic of this discussion was “Where do successful women find their inspiration/how do they inspire others?”

Moderated by Leslie Laster, Lakeland graduate 1998, MAC 2010, Guidance Counselor at Horace Mann Middle School, the panel consisted of Wendy Strout, Lakeland graduate 1994, Wisconsin Campaign Coordinator, AFL-CIO, Rebecca Tagel, Lakeland graduate 1999, Consultant, Life Leadership, and Shannon Riha, Lakeland graduate 2006, Chemistry Lecturer, UW-Stevens Point.

During the discussion, Laster asked the panel what advice they would have for new grads. Riha said, “Networking was huge;” she added, “Finding those connections is huge” in the next steps after graduation. Tagel added, “You really need to watch who you’re around, who’s watching you.” She reminded the audience of Nygard’s speech, “Like Kim talked about, you want them (employers) to know your name.”

Tagel said, “It all starts here, now,” with networking, at events like this one, at Lakeland.

Following the panel discussion, was the networking lunch, which was followed by breakout sessions, of which attendees could choose one of three.

In the “Me, Myself and My Career: Moderately Shameless Self-Promotion on Social Media” session, the women mainly learned about how best to promote themselves on LinkedIn.

Presenter Lindsay Harrison-Eirich, owner of Engaged Social Networking, went over the importance of having a header that makes an impression, a professional picture for your LinkedIn profile picture, having your current field or title listed, as well as having contact information filled in so that you are easy to find and people can connect with you.

Harrison-Eirich also pointed out the feature of being able to customize the link in the contact section so that you are easier to find.

Other areas of importance for this profile included: the summary section, which should include a bio, but not about your work history, and can include keywords that will help with search engine optimization; getting recommendations from people to help build your network and boost your relevance; and growing connections.

The keys of self-promotion, according to Harrison-Eirich, include sharing content to remain relevant, showing your work to communicate your success, being transparent to help others understand your worth and checking analytics so you know what is working.

After the breakout sessions, the women came back together for a round table discussion activity facilitated by the Director of Lakeland’s Counseling Program, Deb Bilzing, titled, “Colorful Colleagues: Learning the Personalities of Your Workplace.”

For this activity, all attendees took a “True Colors Personality Quiz” that divided the women up into four basic colors or personalities. Each color group then discussed, in relation to the workplace, what they thought were their strengths and what got on their nerves, among other topics, and then shared these with the whole room.

The end goal of this activity was to demonstrate that, as Bilzing said, “We need each other, we need all the colors,” or all personalities to work together.

Through a symbolic combining of all the separate colors of M&M’s that were at each table, she demonstrated this point as a reminder to all.

This followed with a short wrap-up of the day, followed by a networking reception in the 1862 Lounge.

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