5 Things I Learned at the Women in Digital National Conference

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My peers and I had the fortunate opportunity to attend the Women in Digital National Conference held in our city of Columbus. It’s not often a large marketing conference like this is conveniently a few expressway exits away. And when a conference is this easy—almost too easy—to get to, you take for granted its magnitude and impact.

That, of course, didn’t last long. We walked through the doors and saw hundreds of women signing in, networking and taking their seats in the beautiful Southern Theatre auditorium. And when it was announced that over 500 women were in attendance, my jaw dropped.

Alongside feasting on my Columbus favorite go-to meals at Condado Tacos, Strongwater and BrewDog in between sessions, I was taking in all the main stage talks and Power Hours like water on a hot day.

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And it wouldn’t be fair to keep all this newfound knowledge to myself. For the 1,000+ members (and thousands more who are not yet Women in Digital members) who couldn’t make it to Ohio for this year’s annual conference, I wanted to share the key takeaways that most resonated with me from this year’s Women in Digital National Conference.

Alexa, How’s My SEO?

Those that know me know that I am highly opposed to voice assistant technology. I do not have one in my home and I have disabled Siri on all my devices. Heck, I don’t even wait for hand-sensor doors to open for me because my hands and arms aren’t broken (yet). I am not lazy and this Jetsons-esque gadget is simply too new to be trusted.

I won’t apologize for my opinions.

Despite my stubborn opposition, I am still curious where this new(ish) technology is heading. So I decided to stick around for Amanda Todovich’s talk “Alexa, How Do We Keep Up?”

When it comes to voice recognition technology, digital marketers have been so focused on defining what that user experience should be like and trying to set the standards for the industry that we forget the basics of being relevant on this platform.

I’m talking about SEO.

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We can’t think of SEO in the same way as we did in the past. Unlike Internet search engines, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the top three ranking or even on the first page of SERP. You get one shot to be the top answer.

And how you approach keyword phrases can’t be the same. People speak in full sentences when they ask a question, so your top keywords have to fit in the flow with how your target audience speaks.

We can’t dismiss traditional SEO best practices yet. And I can’t believe that we’re at a point in digital marketing where I can say the phrase “traditional SEO” as if there’s already an old-school approach to this digital marketing practice. But with both traditional and voice search, we have to find a happy place that satisfies users, whether they want to ask their question out loud or be stubborn like me and type it out word for word.

The Imposter Syndrome Struggle is Real

When I first heard the phrase, I thought imposter syndrome implied a common behavior of many marketers promising the sun and moon to clients or to the higher-ups before scrambling behind the scenes in search of how to do whatever was promised at the quality it was promised by the impossible deadline of which was set.

That is not imposter syndrome.

If you have imposter syndrome, you hold an internal fear that someone will expose you as a fraud because you personally doubt your own achievements, abilities and worth. Despite exceeding ROIs and KPIs, despite the rolling accolades on your resume, despite how well you know your industry and niche.

Does this sound like you?

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Turns out, this phenomenon has crept into the psyches of every digital marketer. From presenter to presenter, this phrase kept coming up. Imposter syndrome hits even the biggest pros in the industry, including the digital marketing experts, Senior VPs and CEOs.

Their advice? Separate feeling from fact. Define your accomplishments objectively and back it up with data to support whether or not you are where you are because of your talent or some kind of luck. You’ll probably agree with the former.

Swat Away Your Fly-On-The-Wall Nature

Thursday’s sessions ended with a live podcast recording with BrewDogUSA CEO Tanisha Robinson as the keynote interviewee. And she didn’t hold anything back.

From stage fright to F bombs, she kept the conversation real. Even on the hard stuff.

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She told us how even as CEO, she still finds people speaking to the man in the meeting room and avoiding eye contact with her. It doesn’t matter if they know her title or if there are three people in the room. She says it still happens.

This has probably happened to all of us. You’re in a meeting and even though the discussion pertains to your work or expertise, it’s like you’re not even in the room.

She said kill this behavior immediately. Don’t sit back and let it happen. When you do, you give that person permission to treat you that way.

Instead, make your presence known early and consistently during the conversation. Bring your value to the table so there’s never doubt if and when your input is needed.

My Career is My Choice

During Kelly Mooney’s talk Be the CEO of Your Life, she told the story of her life, from her career choices to her marriage and family. When she found herself at a crossroads, she made a choice by bulldozing her own path.

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When she wanted to get engaged, she proposed to her boyfriend. When the position of president at her employer’s business opened up, she threw her own hat in the ring—and accepted the new title. When she realized she wasn’t at home enough with her kids, she negotiated for more flexibility.

She wasn’t asked if she wanted a promotion. She wasn’t asked if she wanted more time with her family. She made it happen with her choices.

While I may not be at any of these points in my career or personal life, I can take this lesson to heart. No one is going to present change to me on a platter. That’s up for me to create.

I am in Desperate Need of a New Headshot

Years ago when I was back on the job market, I scheduled a photography session for a new business headshot. I wanted to spiff up my professional profiles with a more updated look that was a current reflection of myself.

I also scheduled a salon appointment right before, thinking that having my hair styled would be a perfect final touch. There’s no harm in having two inches snipped for the camera, right?

Except when the hairdresser decides to chop off five inches and insist it was only two.

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I walked into the photo session furious—and with a bouncy bob. And with my baby face, I appeared as if I were coming in for a senior yearbook session, not a business headshot. Despite my insistence that I wanted to reschedule, maybe for sometime next year when my hair grew back, the photographer wanted my money and refused a refund.

I never opened the paid-for digital files. I knew they were bad.

I put my digital skills to the test by scanning the best, most recent photo of me, then editing out the background of Thanksgiving dinner for a simple green. And this is what I used for years.

When I saw that free headshots were available to Women in Digital members during the conference, I was elated. I even (sort of) did my hair for the occasion. I was now at a place in my career and hair-length that I could shine the confidence I want to present on my professional profiles.

Thanks Women in Digital! 

Did you attend this year’s Women in Digital National Conference in Columbus? What was your biggest takeaway? Share what you learned in the comments section below.

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