Winning an award brings personal and professional validation – the more prestigious the award the better. But the question is, what if you don’t win? Is it all just a waste of time and effort?
With the 7th Annual Winnovation Awards now open for entries, organiser Women In Innovation SA (WIISA) decided to find out by asking previous finalists and award winners about their experience. Here's what we found.
Even before the winners are announced, when you’re shortlisted as a finalist in our awards program, you’re going to experience an uptick in your credibility. You’ll get a chance to showcase your achievements and be publicly recognised for all your hard work, and find yourself positioned as a leader in your field. The long-term payoff, whether you’re looking for investors, clients or a new job, is important social proof.
But even if you don’t win anything at all, there are still huge benefits to entering awards.
- The process of entering an award immediately pushes you out of your comfort zone, and that’s where most entrepreneurs flourish.
- Completing the awards submission forces you to be disciplined in telling your story and helps you see the gaps and risks in your business model or career – which stimulates you to think more strategically about the future.
- It helps you develop and communicate your values, creating powerful content that you can leverage in your business plan, pitches and media – and for other awards and grants.
- The more awards you enter, the more practice you get… with the proviso that you need to tailor your answers carefully for each program.
“As a judge on many awards panels, I can say from experience that awards are often shortlisted based on points – so you need to do all you can to maximise those points,” says WIISA board member and Winnovation Award winner Leila Henderson.
“But when it gets down to the final decision, things become a lot more subjective and less scientific. That’s where entrants need to consider: What can I add to my submission that will push me over the line in a tie-breaker?”
Here are a few tips from Women In Innovation on how to write a killer awards submission.
- Your job is to demonstrate to the judges exactly why you should win, so give yourself plenty of time to consider your answers – last minute submissions can be chaotic.
- Start with why, as Simon Sineck says. Why is the problem you solve important? Why does it need to be solved now? And, why you? Why are you the right person to lead this project or company?
- Use very simple language, weed out all the jargon, and make sure to follow all the rules and answer all the questions directly. Don't assume the judges will do any research at all apart from what you include in your submission. They might be looking at 60 other applications alongside yours.
- You need to include evidence that you understand your market and your competitors, as well as case studies, media coverage and other social proof.
- Back it all up with the hard facts and figures, whether that's revenue growth, job creation, website hits, social media follows, or what customers say about you.
- Winnovation award winners have made tangible contributions to society, from helping to cure disease and preventing crime, to caring for the elderly and improving outcomes for women using IVF.
- Communicate your vision. If you don't see why what you're doing is important, it’s going to be pretty hard to persuade the judges.
Some practical tips:
- If you’re completing your awards form in an online template, write it up offline first. It’s much easier to edit and gives you free rein on your imagination.
- After you've written your submission, give it to somebody who has nothing to do with your industry and find out if they enjoy reading it and understand what you're trying to say.
- Before hitting send, read your award submission out loud, on your feet. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you weed out difficult phrases.
- A video can be your one-two punch – telling your story straight to camera. If possible, describe a story that can be easily visualized, about a person who experienced the impact of your solution. Hit the judges in the guts with why it matters.
- Lastly, if you want to really stand out from the crowd – tell the judges what will happen if you win this award; the difference it will make to you and your business – to the state, to the country, the world - and how it will enable you to give back to the community.
Incidentally, when we asked our members why they wanted to belong to Women In Innovation, 58% responded “to support others to realise their potential”.
Becoming a finalist or winning an award will certainly change how you see yourself, you’ll become more confident and that in turn changes how others see you. An award gives you a voice – a reason for people to listen to what you have to say.
Winnovation Awards – Nominations
Find all the details at: https://www.winnovation.com.au/nominations
Leila HendersonP: 0414697071