I still remember the first time I saw “award-winning” on a professional bio. The woman was experienced, a confident presenter, and I was studying her to figure out how I could follow a path to become like her someday. I just couldn’t imagine how incredible I’d need to be to win a professional award as she had.
Little did I know that I would eventually apply for more than 100 award submissions for others and become a judge for awards as well, experiencing the entirety of the process.
What I learned is that standing out takes preparation and often a plan to become award-winning in your industry. There are a few solid pathways that one can follow to improve the odds of receiving award-winning status, some of which are extremely easy to do.
Path 1: Focus on measurable accomplishments
Many industry award programs focus on highlighting accomplishments. In order to win these types of submissions, it’s important to have achievements that can stand out amongst others.
If you’re looking to win a future award, you can use your quarterly evaluation or work-planning period to think about ways to proactively generate new accomplishments for the next year’s award submissions. Some questions to ask yourself in the planning process are provided below.
- Are there new projects I will be executing this year? How can I measure and report results that can be shared publicly?
- How much money can I earn or save the company this year? Are there ways to maximize that?
- What big transitions are happening in the industry right now? How can I make a big impact in connection to this change?
Thinking proactively each year can help you prioritize results that lead to awards.
Path 2: Network and share your goals
While self-nominations are often accepted, some awards prefer another person provide the nomination for you. Letting people know that you’re hoping to go after an award next year can seed them with the idea to nominate you when the opportunity comes up.
Another reason to network is to make sure that those who do the judging see you in action and are aware of your impact and leadership. I’ve sat on boards for awards and a natural inclination of our human minds is to give preference to those we know and have seen doing great things. If people have heard of you and have positive memories, that will boost your opportunity to win.
Path 3: Be a thought leader
Being an industry leader also generates positive awareness that can lead to recognition by award judges. Some awards even have scoring specifically for assessing your leadership in furthering the industry, so being seen in this capacity is a direct pathway to winning.
Some ways to build your profile in thought leadership include writing content on your blog or LinkedIn profile, contributing to industry publications, being interviewed on podcasts or speaking at events.
Related: What Exactly Is Thought Leadership?
Path 4: Get yourself in the running!
Using these pathways to build a profile worthy of awards is the first step to achieving that goal, but none of these matter without a well-written award submission.
Often, reviewers are reading dozens if not hundreds of submissions, so if your content is subpar, it won’t get very far in the review process.
If you’re not comfortable writing about yourself, find a pro who knows how to write stand-out award nominations and hire him or her to help. Even if you’re being nominated by another person, he or she often needs your input to fill in the answers, so provide quality written content to boost your chances of getting noticed.
Winning awards isn’t simply a vanity metric, it’s a true differentiator for professionals in most industries that can lead to better opportunities and higher pay. For entrepreneurs, it can be the difference between landing a client or losing a contract to a similarly qualified competitor.
Keeping an annual or bi-annual budget for award submissions is a great way to keep your company and your employees in regular consideration for opportunities to win these honors, which you can use for PR and brand credibility to garner new business.