Did you know that winning awards is a little used pro hack that can help you get recognition and valuable social proof? It gives the people a feeling that you matter more and positions you like a market leader. It separates you from the crowd and raises you above your competitors.
Long story short, awards matter.
But, don’t you have to be amazing to win awards?
No, not really. You just have to apply to them.
However ridiculous that sentence may seem, it’s true. Few people enter awards, and there are a lot of them to enter – in fact, there’s a whole industry “selling” awards.
So, how do you win them, you may ask?
Here’s a quick guide:
- Find a selection of awards in your niche. There are all kinds of international, national and regional awards to enter. There are awards for best idea, best startup, best innovation, best product, best team, best entrepreneur, best young entrepreneur, best person named “Bob”… you get the picture. There are a lot of awards out there, and they need worthy winners. That’s you.
- Put all of the deadlines into your calendar or to do list. Then add a date 1 month before that to start working on them.
- Awards are done by people for people with people. Often times people with seemingly low-responsibility positions matter more than you realize, like an assistant who’s tasked to manage entries. The first lesson I learned in hardcore Investment Banking was that it’s often more useful in life to be kind to the people that may seem “below you” than the people “above you”, as it’s the people “below you” that are more likely to help you shine so you get noticed by the people “above you”. I paid attention to the secretaries (no Don Draper… not in that way), team assistants and juniors… and it really helped me reach the next level quickly because anytime someone tried to knock me down, I had people everywhere backing up my upstanding character!
- Pick up the phone or write nice emails asking for clarifications, help or advice. People love giving a little bits of advice if they can. Get to know the people running the awards (if possible), and that way when your application arrives, chances are you will be remembered and placed into the “Put Forward to Judges” pile.
- When it comes to filling in the application, this takes a bit of time and you need to think carefully about the skills/ attributes that they want you to demonstrate. It’s not so much about having the best startup but having the best application for that award. Review the questions and think strategically: what would impress them? Then think about your startup and examples / stories / facts / analytics that match those criteria. You want to avoid too much “creative license” (lies) here, but you can definitely put a very strong foot forward and expand on key topics to make your application stand out.
This is a big game, and there are not many people playing in it. One venture capitalist that I know well, uses this tactic as one of their first strategies when buying a new business: raise the profile by entering (and winning) a bunch of awards.
So, what’s in it for you specifically? What are the benefits of using the winning of awards as a pro hack?
Well, although there are plenty of benefits of winning awards, my top five favourite reasons to apply for awards are:
- It builds your credibility by being “Award Winning” (regardless of the size / importance of the award. For example, a New Zealand wine proudly boasts having received the award of being the “Most Admired Wine Brand in New Zealand”… is that a big title? Not really, but it’s helping them daily!
- It creates a PR story – leverage this award victory as creatively as you want to drive interest / awareness / traction with end clients/ users.
- It’s great for team morale.
- It raises your profile within your industry (“what have they got that we don’t know about?”).
- You often get a nice award dinner out of it!
Besides being a little used pro hack, winning awards celebrates hard work and success and is a great PR opportunity. However, it’s not just winning the award that counts. The process of being nominated is often worth the effort. But first, you must carefully choose the awards category that best suits you and your business.