BWN Sponsor Spotlight

The Business Women's Network of Howard County is built upon an outstanding foundation of members and sponsors. Their combined subject knowledge is unparalleled. All of our sponsors are also members! Here, we feature a monthly blog post written by a current member-sponsor.

Sponsorship Information 

Current sponsors can contact Ruth Lamberty at ruth@adult-prep.com to request a spotlight month.



  • October 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    By Faith Wachter


    It feels a bit early to talk about holiday shopping right now but the truth is, the 2020 holiday season will not be business as usual; and your social media marketing should reflect that. With the economic effects of the pandemic shutdowns, the holidays will look quite different from the past. More folks will be staying home, which means that fewer people will be entertaining, traveling, and dining out. Online sales have already increased 55% year over year in July, as more families are shopping from the safety of their homes. Another expectation: holiday shoppers will focus on supporting local and small businesses to help them survive COVID restrictions.

    Is YOUR business' social media ready for the 2020 holiday shopping season? Are you taking advantage of all the different features on each platform that will support your holiday marketing? Here are a few business features that you might want to explore further.

    Facebook Shops

    You can now efficiently sell items and checkout directly on Facebook and Instagram via Shopify. Set up your Shop so that folks will get redirected to the e-commerce section of your website to make a purchase. You'll need to set up a Commerce Manager account and connect your website to your Facebook Shop. Learn more here.

    Don't have a Facebook Shop? Make sure your Call to Action (CTA) button links your followers to the best method of contacting you. Set up automated messages and other actions in Messenger so you don't miss a lead.

    Shoppable Instagram Posts

    Shoppers can now buy directly from your feed posts or Stories when you connect your Shopify website to your Instagram account. Add product stickers and tag products in your posts to have your products appear in the Shopping tab in Explore. You can also set up a View Shop button in your bio to encourage traffic to your website. Get started here.

    Don't have an online shop? Be sure your bio reflects your services and your brand voice, appeals to your ideal customer, and sends them to your website. You only have 150 characters in your bio, so choose your words strategically. Use keywords that will make you more findable in Search to the right clients.

    Video

    Video content performs extremely well on virtually all social media platforms. Period.

    Videos capture the eye and stop the "thumb scroll" on your feed. They're also favored on the Facebook and Instagram algorithms, so they increase your visibility. There are so many video format options available now that you'd be remiss to not try to incorporate videos into your social media strategy this holiday season.

    You don't need a big video marketing budget and expensive equipment. Try some of these tips to get a great quality video from your smartphone.

    Social Media Ads

    You should also consider social media advertising as a highly cost-effective way of reaching a hyper-targeted audience. If done correctly, social media ads can help drive leads, increase brand awareness, generate web traffic, and even boost revenue. 70% of advertisers say they've generated leads with social media ads. Get all the details here.

    This list is just the beginning of how your social media marketing can support your holiday sales strategies. It takes time to pivot your current business trajectory into other efforts, so NOW is a great time to enact those plans and prepare for the new realities of holiday shopping in the COVID era.

    Author  Faith Wachter, owner and founder of Faith Wachter Consulting, LLC. Providing social media solutions for small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals. www.faithwachter.com 

    Email  faith@faithwachter.com

  • September 01, 2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    By Lynn Jore and Jessamine Duvall


    In March, the world turned upside down. Our nation is experiencing multiple crises at the same time- a global pandemic, economic fallout, and the nationwide mobilization for racial justice. No one is left untouched. All have experienced some level of loss: loss of income, health, loved ones, social freedoms, safety, even peace of mind. If we as adults are struggling under the weight of this enormous stress, how are our kids doing? 

    Our school-aged kids are facing extraordinary stressors (loss of daily routine, friends, social support, sports, events, activities, etc.). Some are missing major milestones, experiencing the trauma of losing a loved one, or the loss of family income and stability that adds the stressor of potentially not having enough food or mental and physical security.

    One of the best ways we can help kids through this difficult time is to equip them with the tools they need to understand and process their emotions, manage stress, resolve conflict, and be resilient. These important life skills fall into the category of education known as social-emotional learning (SEL). Social emotional learning (for girls and boys) has become a hot topic in the field of education within the last few years. SEL (as defined by The Collaborative of Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, or, CASEL) is considered the ability to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. 

    Even before the pandemic, educators were realizing that these mental health barometers can dramatically impact students’ academic success, classroom management, future employment, and prevention of high-risk behaviors. As the pandemic continues (increasing the likelihood of long-term effects on the mental health of our kids), the need for SEL-focused programs and practices is on the rise. Because schools are only able to touch on these issues in between reading, math, science, social studies, and related arts instruction (Thank you, teachers!), there are an increasing number of extra-curricular programs that focus on social-emotional learning.

    SEL is important for both boys and girls right now, but girls are feeling the impact of the pandemic more. For years, experts have seen a significant decrease in physical activity and an alarming increase in anxiety and depression in girls (substantially more than boys). Rachel Simmons, in her book Under Pressure, states that a staggering 31 percent of girls experience symptoms of anxiety as compared to only 13 percent of boys. She also states that adolescent girls are now three times as likely as boys to become depressed. Add a pandemic on top of that and our girls are really struggling. 

    One of the most common effects of the pandemic so far for girls is the increase of loneliness. In May of this year, The ROX Institute for Research and Training administered a wide-reaching survey to assess the well-being of girls across the country. They discovered: “In general, girls more than boys, tend to define themselves in relation to others. Their relationships are significant sources of support and being disconnected from some of their most primary sources of stability and encouragement can be detrimental to their mental health. With nearly 80% of girls reporting more isolation since COVID-19 began, it is important that schools ensure they are adequately attending to the potential mental health threats that can accompany unsupported virtual learning.”

    In July, CASEL (a national organization focused on research and education initiatives advancing SEL) collaborated with 40+ organizations to create: “Roadmap to Re-opening School'', a guide for school systems and parents to prepare for the transition of an unusual school year nationwide. The guide states: “Academic learning and cognitive growth are inextricably linked with social and emotional development and environments. For example, students learn best when they are focused, find information relevant and engaging, and are actively involved in learning. This requires them to have a ready and focused brain, use emotional regulation skills, and also be in an environment where they feel physically and emotionally safe, connected, included, and supported.” SEL provides a solid foundation for children to be academically successful and establish healthy practices that will positively impact their current and future mental health. 


    Our kids need us. All adults in the life of a child are essential at the table of collaboration right now: parents, educators, neighbors, and community partners. Kids need to feel free to ask questions and given space to process loss and fear and other complex emotions they may be feeling. Kids need to feel connected to and supported by caring-adults and their peers. They need tools and opportunities to practice healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress in these uncharted territories.

    These are perilous and uncertain times. Let’s give our kids every chance to process, connect and grow in this challenging season.  


    About this Month's Featured Sponsor

    Girls on the Run

    Girls on the Run has been providing social-emotional learning for girls all over the United States for almost 25 years. Our research-based curriculum was named one of the top three afterschool social-emotional learning programs in a recent study completed by Harvard University. At Girls on the Run of Central Maryland, we believe the skills practiced in each GOTR lesson are essential at this time of extraordinary circumstances, which is exactly why we remain determined to make this program accessible to every girl in Howard and Carroll counties. 

    Since schools have closed, Girls on the Run of Central Maryland has adapted our curriculum to provide options for girls to participate either virtually or in a small group at a safe distance outdoors (according to each family’s preference). Financial assistance is available based on household income, but for the first time in our history, we may run out of scholarship funding due to the financial impact of COVID on our organization. 

    If you want to help girls recognize their limitless potential, please visit gotrcentralmd.org. We have many volunteer and fundraising opportunities available. Registration for the Fall 2020 season opens August 23rd at noon.

  • August 01, 2020 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    By Lisa Jolles


    The past few months, some (not all) of Us HAD (maybe not now) a little more time on our hands. However, while we were doing those things that we normally “avoid”, i.e. cleaning closets, we might want to make sure that our affairs are in order and that we are getting the MOST from the benefits we have in place.  Covid-19 has made most of us re-evaluate our priorities and what is truly important.


    Dust Off Your Policies — Don't Overlook the Small Print!

    1. Life Insurance: 

     Re-evaluate your beneficiaries. If you are divorced, you don’t want your EX being your beneficiary! 

    — Your policy  is not just a piece of paper, provisions need to be reviewed. For instance, if you purchased a Universal or Variable  Life policy, they are interest-rate and market sensitive. The death benefit may be there if not funded properly

    2. Disability Policies are not one size fits all and should be reviewed regularly by a professional on a regular basis, to meet changing needs.

    3. Long-term Care: If you are just considering, there are newer strategies available, other than traditional long-term care. Consider the added value of working with a specialist who will guide you through the claims process and provide advocacy when care is needed. 

    Free Tools Associated With Your Group Benefits

    1. Employee Assistance Plan (EAP): Many group disability policies include up to 3 face to face /unlimited telephonic counselor visits for common stressors: debt, relationships etc. 

    2. Telemedicine Benefit: 24/7 for routine type services such as colds, flu, pink eye, rashes, allergies.  Doctor can even call in a prescription!  Small (sometimes $0) copay with many plans. 

         *By law, any Covid-19 related telemedicine  services are a  $0 copay

    3. Will Preparation: For basic wills, you may have a will prep service included with your EAP policy. For more complicated wills, you will want to use an experienced estate planning attorney  


    About this Month's Featured Sponsor

    Jolles Insurance and Financial  Lisa Jolles

    Lisa Jolles, President of Jolles Insurance & Financial & her knowledgeable team, has taken pride in helping individuals, group clients (and their employees) get the most value from their benefit package for more than 30 years. Lisa feels strongly that “it’s our job to fill in the gaps in our clients planning and to always be there to educate and advocate on their client’s behalf.” 


    www.jollesinsurance.com

     

    Jolles Insurance & Financial has a mission to help not only their clients, but their community, to safely navigate to and thru retirement with the right planning in place and the good health to enjoy it!  It’s for that reason they founded the non-profit We Promote Health, Inc.  Join them and their WPH team every Saturday morning for the always FREE “Boot Camp in the Park”.  


    www.wepromotehealth.org

  • July 04, 2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    By Nina K. Yudell

    We are living in a very unusual time. Extraordinary really. These are the words that I hear and read most often to describe this period. For those of us who are fortunate enough to be working during this period, most have faced challenges and experienced significant changes in our day-to-day activities, whether we are working at home or at our normal workplaces. It has been a time of higher anxiety and stress for many. It is a time when effective leadership and a strong organizational culture have been critical for success. I reflect on this as I am very grateful to be a partner at a firm, Brown Advisory—an investment and strategic advisory firm that has both. This has allowed us to execute well over the past several months. In this extraordinary time, I am struck by how important it is to adequately plan ahead assuming both best and worst case scenarios. Management decisions made years ago have been so important and helpful. Our “client first” culture and our culture of teamwork and supporting each other has served us well. Our culture embraces open communication, listening and learning as we know that we don’t have all of the answers. Another important part of our culture is to serve those in greater need in our community, and we are encouraged to find ways to do so in this environment.

    Our leadership was early in recognizing that some of our business practices needed to change to keep us and our clients and others safe through the coronavirus pandemic. We canceled events including our biennial Navigating Our World (NOW) conference, which has an attendance of over 750. In its place, we have launched a series of weekly podcasts with topics relevant to this time (you can also listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher). We are an essential business, therefore our offices could have remained open but our leadership chose to have near 100% of colleagues working remotely and we have been doing so successfully. Throughout this WFH period, our leadership communicated with clients weekly and encouraged all of us who are client facing to reach out to each and every client. The firm was prepared for this moment, having made investments in technology and in hiring great people. So that we can best serve our clients and support our colleagues, the firm has provided everyone with anything they have needed to work at home, such as laptops, monitors and printers. Our Human Resources team has provided support through good benefits and special programs at this time, such as weekly wellness webinars. Years ago, we established Colleague Resource Groups (CRG) and in this time of a heightened awareness of racial injustice and inequality, our “In Living Color” CRG led a discussion for our African American colleagues to have the opportunity to honestly share their thoughts and feelings. 

    These are just a few examples. I share my own professional experience to illustrate the importance of leadership and culture. All the actions that we took, decisions that were made over preceding years prepared us for this moment in time, however long it may be.

    Be well and stay safe.  

    About this Month's Featured Sponsor

    Brown Advisory Partner  Nina K. Yudell

    Nina K. Yudell is a partner and portfolio manager at Brown Advisory with over 30 years of investment experience. She serves as Vice Chair of the University of Baltimore Foundation and Chair of the UBF Investment Committee. Nina is a member of the Howard County Estate Planning Council as well as a member of the Business Women’s Network of Howard County and serves on the Scholarship Committee of the BWN Scholarship Foundation.


  • May 15, 2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    By Rebecca Bitzer

    telehealth dietitian visits

    Since so many people are staying at home during the COVID pandemic, we thought it would be helpful to share what we have learned on how to work remotely from home. Here is one of our Registered Dietitians speaking to another one of our Registered Dietitians. Each of our Dietitians specializes in a specific area of nutrition.

    Tips for the Newbie on How to Work Remotely from Home

    Make sure to have a quiet space

    • It is understandable during the pandemic that your space might not be completely quiet because of children in the background or barking dogs, but do your best to keep these to a minimum.  Remember, that even the professional newscasters are dealing with the same issues.  You can assure your clients that they will not be heard by others in your home.
    • Do your best  keeping furry coworkers occupied, cannot always control  dogs barking. So remember,  “this wont be perfect, there may be dogs barking” and trying to stay calm as you can. Luckily cats just sleep near you most of the day

    Good lighting

    • Just like your workspace in the office away from home, make sure that your home office has good lighting. Ideally, natural lighting is the best, but if that is not possible, make sure to move a lamp close to you so that your clients will be able to see you.  Be careful of backlighting which makes it difficult for your clients to see you.

    Earphones or Earbuds

    • Since you will be on the phone and/or in front of a screen for more hours than usual, make sure that you have comfortable earphones or earbuds.  This also protects the privacy of your client.

    Privacy

    • In terms of privacy, make sure you have a HIPAA compliant platform.  Even though the rules have loosened a bit with this during the pandemic.  Common sense rules. Do what you can to keep your client’s information private. More on HIPPA compliant platforms below.

    Video Area

    • Make sure that the area behind you is professional. Your clients will be seeing you in your home environment which makes it especially important to be mindful of what they are able to see on their computer screen.

    Tips for the Pro on How to Work Remotely from Home

    HIPAA compliant platforms for Telehealth

    • There are so many to choose from, either stand alone platforms or ones that are interfaced with appointment/billing platforms.  Like most things, there are pros and cons for each platform.  We have experience with many of them including:
      • VSEE
      • doxy.me
      • google video
      • zoom
      • Screensharing
      • We find that it is worth the extra cost to make sure that you can share your screen with your clients.  This makes the educational part of your counseling session run much more smoothly. So far, we have liked doxy. me the best.

    **If you are a health professional, make sure that your platform is HIPAA compliant.**

    Backup plan

    • This may seem like overkill, but we believe it is essential to have an alternative platform available if your primary platform is not working well on a specific day.  Believe me, we have had to switch back and forth fairly often.  We do whatever we can to make the user experience as good as possible.

    Be prepared

    • Send links to your client prior to call so that everyone is ready for the telehealh appointment.  It is best to include as much information as possible in terms of how to connect as possible to prevent miscommunication.
    • Have patients (clients) upload documents on a HIPAA compliant portal prior to call

    In case of problems

    • Have your administrative team available to help you troubleshoot
    • If none of your telehealth platforms are not available due to loss of internet, feel free to use your telephone to stay connected

    More Tips to Work Remotely from Home

    Take care of yourself

    • Make sure to stay grounded.  Take a look at this blog for grounding exercises that you can do at home.
    • Make sure to take breaks like you would at work.  Eat lunch, eat snacks, walk around or stretch between appointments.

    Connect with others on your team

    • Since you no longer have the same ability to destress with your team members face-to-face, make sure to stay connected to them periodically throughout the day.  For more tips on how to stay connected remotely, take a look at this blog on remote team building.

    Make your workspace enjoyable

    • If possible have your cat or your fish tank close by to help calm you
    • Decorate your workspace like you would if it were your permanent workspace.  Maybe set up by a window or have favorite plants or photos where you can see them.
    • Try to keep your space decluttered to help your mind rest in between sessions.

    Desk

    • If you can get a desk, that will help you feel more productive and comfortable and help you to separate work/home.  Here is what one of our dietitians said, “desk with a cork board and dry erase board, which makes it easy to stay organized while working from home”

    Work Boundaries

    • “Try to find a way to create space between work and home for balance, if you have a home office, try to leave work in there, closing the door, or if you aren’t working in an office. Try to put away work things in a box or designated area until it is time to work again.  These tips should help you create some mental distance for self-care.

    What tips have you found to be most useful when working remotely from home? 

    About this Month's Featured Sponsor

    Rebecca Bitzer & Associates  Rebecca Bitzer

    Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD
    Registered Dietitian
    Rebecca Bitzer & Associates: A Dietitian for Every Condition

    For more tips and hacks on how to work remotely,  email rebecca@rbitzer.com or if you are interested in referring a client, your loved-one or yourself for nutrition counseling, email admin@rbitzer.com

    We are here to help during the pandemic and beyond.

  • March 25, 2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    By Nirit Roddy


    There is nothing like an international pandemic to show us how truly important our health is and how crucial it is to do our best when it comes to our physical and mental well-being. When it comes to getting in shape, it is key to find something you can stick with that works for you both physically and mentally.

    Most entrepreneurial women work 10-12-hour days and are constantly putting out fires in both their business and in their home – often at the expense of their physical and mental health, not making time for proper rest, and not making good exercise and food choices.

    Women are often afraid to try new eating, sleeping, and exercise routines because they are afraid of not meeting all their other demands. But the truth is that self-care does not require making drastic changes or completely changing your entire life. You don’t have to exercise intensely for an hour daily to get in shape. You don’t have to eat clean in order to be healthy! In fact, as a certified nutritionist, I can tell you that this is incredibly unhealthy for you on a mental, physical, and emotional level.

    So, what does a busy, over-taxed, self-aware professional woman do?

    Start implementing these 5 steps right away:

    1. Start eating 3 meals a day. Try to incorporate protein and healthy carbohydrates is each meal. Do not deprive yourself of any foods: just monitor your portions.
    2. Incorporate 20 minutes of exercise daily. Take a walk a couple days a week. If you are over 40 start lifting light weights to prevent osteoporosis. Try online workouts.
    3. Drink water!  Try to drink at least 8 cups of water a day. If water isn’t your favorite thing, consider tea without sugar or add some flavor into your water.  Water is the # 1 nutrient when it comes to your health and weight loss.
    4. Get support and share your goal with others. Working women need one another. Their tribe is so important to them. Tell your friends that you are trying to improve your physical and mental health and ask your family and friends for their support.
    5. Get an accountability coach. All these steps are fantastic but if you are like most people you can’t do it all on your own. There are so many women coaches out there that would love to support you. Find an experienced expert that you trust and ask for help.

    As women leaders we are role models to our colleagues and our children. We need to model self-care as a huge priority. Now is always the best time to start.   

    About this Month's Featured Sponsor

    Fit With Nirit  Nirit Roddy

    Nirit Roddy is the founder of Fit With Nirit an online fitness and nutrition program that works WITHOUT dieting or going to the gym. Her mission is to help women regain their power by unapologetically putting themselves first. Her amazing energy can be found at www.fitwithnirit.com and on Facebook

    In 12 weeks, Nirit helps women reshape their bodies and feel amazingly confident in their clothes without dieting or killing themselves in the gym.

  • February 20, 2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    By Ruth Lamberty

      

    January was National Mentoring Month, and though it has passed, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the importance of mentors in society, with the hope that you’ll seek one out and/or become one!

    Mentoring can mean a lot of things – tutoring, guiding, coaching, developing, supporting, and I could go on. At its core, mentoring is a relationship in which a more experienced person helps to guide a less experienced person towards personal and/or professional growth. I’ve had many mentors over the years – friends, an executive at a previous job, a Score mentor when I decided to start Adult Prep and, most recently, a life coach mentor. Each of them has had an important role to play in my development and growth, which is the main reason that I decided to train to become a life coach. Growth is important for each of us.

    Research proves that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. Ultimately, effective mentoring guarantees to the mentee that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, transitions and, here’s that word again, growth.

    Did you know that students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class?

    Did you know that young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor?

    Did you know that more than 9 in 10 workers who have a mentor are satisfied with their jobs, including more than half who are “very satisfied?”

    So, how do you become a mentor? Find someone you’d like to help teach, guide or support in some way and then…teach, guide or support them! It can be something you wish you’d had help with when you were younger, like how to find the right college for you, how to ask for a raise and the like. Or it can be something you’re great at now. Are you a workout fiend? Find a mentee that would like to have a healthier lifestyle. Are you great at calculus? Tutor someone who isn’t. Want to help with all the things? Volunteer for a Big Brother/Big Sister program. You get the point.

    How do you find a mentor? Just the opposite. Write down your goals and start looking for someone who can help you reach them. Search for a program that meets your needs through the National Mentoring Partnership or find a life coach in your area.

    Lastly, a friendly reminder to be thoughtful and purposeful with your actions; warm and inquisitive with your words. You never know who may be watching/listening.   

    About this Month's Featured Sponsor

    Adult Prep, LLC  Ruth Lamberty

    Ruth Lamberty founded Adult Prep, LLC, a hands-on education company, after nearly 2 decades of marketing, communications and engagement work for various non-profit and for-profit entities.

    She began her career as a communications associate and rapidly progressed to the positions of Director of Marketing; and Director of Engagement and Communications, responsible for overseeing community outreach and meeting formerly unmet public needs. Ruth was twice recognized by her employers for her outstanding performance in these positions by receiving the Mensch (good person) Award and ProfessionalExcellence Award for exceptional achievement. 

    Ruth has trained teens and adults in the areas of message development, media representation, public speaking, online presence and presentation skills.  She also volunteers with several community organizations where she helps shape programs for team building, community building and self-focused building. 

    The creation of Adult Prep came after Ruth noticed an unmet need to better enable our children to stand on their own two feet when they leave home as young adults. This enriching of lives through the hands-on teaching of life skills focuses on rapid skills development in the area of independent living. Ruth received her B.S. from the University of Florida and has received numerous continuing education credits in related fields.

    Visit Adult Prep's website

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