I’ve just spent a month as a preliminary round judge for a prominent international business award’s Women in Business category. I’ve judged the preliminary round four times now and I still consider it a great honor to have been invited to do so. The judging is done online. Entrants in my queue were mostly from the U.S., but a handful were from outside of the country. The entrants are top of their class in every way and all are prominent leaders in their organizations.
Many are employed by Fortune 500 companies and others are founders of their own enterprises, for-profit and not-for-profit. They are amazingly capable, brave, ambitious and so very fortunate to have had their considerable talents recognized, encouraged and rewarded. Reading their approximately 700 word entry summaries gave me a glimpse of how effective leaders set priorities, rally their teams and achieve extraordinary goals that not infrequently have national and global impact.
The awards were first presented in 2002 and there are several thousand entrants each year. There are numerous award categories within the Women in Business segment, including Executive of the Year, Maverick, Young Entrepreneur and so on. There are other award categories that recognize men for significant business achievements as well. The entry fee is less than $50. Entrants obtain access to all of the judges comments, which are no doubt instructive. Basically, you don’t walk away empty handed if you enter, but do not win, an award. It appears that highly successful Freelance consultants need not shy away from the awards and in fact, would be wise to include an award strategy in their brand development activities.
Nominating yourself for a business award is one heck of a clever business promotion strategy. Getting your brand story in front of a panel of judges, who are often well-connected movers and shakers, is a wonderful way to get on the radar screen of influential players who may have a need for your talent, or may know someone who does. Plus, if you’re able to read the judges’ comments, you’ll get some helpful feedback that can be considered coaching.
If you do get lucky and win an award, you will be called to the podium to make your acceptance speech–your chance to shine, however briefly. Not only that, but the award sponsor always gives quality PR to winners in every category. You’ll get an electronic version of the award to upload to your website and social media profiles. You’ll have a reason to send press releases of your own to media outlets, right along with the awards sponsor.
Winning a business award is surpassed only by winning an A-List client to add to your roster. Awards bring prestige, credibility, visibility, new clients and good referrals to your business. The application process is likely to be time-consuming, but I dare say that you’ll be the better for it regardless of the outcome.
Step 1 is to identify an award that you have a reasonable chance of winning. Pursuing a small local award in your first attempt is advisable. Step 2 is to join the association or professional group that sponsors the award and Step 3 is to attend organization events, get to know people and join a committee. In about two years, once you’ve built some solid relationships, Step 4 is to nominate yourself for an award or ask a fellow member to do so. If you can win an award or two at a smaller organization, then investigate Awards given by larger and more prestigious groups.
Be aware of the obligations that are attached to nominating yourself and especially, of becoming a finalist. Finalists may be expected to buy a table at the awards luncheon or dinner and that will mean perhaps ten $35 or $50 tickets. If you win, there is also the price of the award itself, which may cost $100 – $300. If you nominate yourself you’ll have to buy at least one ticket and if you’re a finalist, then you must also look fabulous, dressed in a great suit, with your hair cut and color in good shape and your make-up expertly applied. Consider it all as a marketing expense and take it off on your taxes (you can make it work).
When in business, investments must be made and whether you are a Freelance consultant or Executive Vice President at a multinational corporation, in this millenium we must recognize that we have a personal brand to develop and nurture. Accolades and financial rewards are bestowed upon those who package and present themselves well.
Thanks for reading,