By Catherine Stock-Haanstra
If you follow PIER Marketing on Facebook, you will know by now that I am the exceedingly proud, and somewhat humbled, Victorian State Winner of the Australian Institute of Management’s Leadership Excellence Awards in the Owner/Entrepreneur category.
Sitting at my computer finalising my application on a Sunday night a few months back in order to meet the deadline, it’s fair to say I wasn’t enamoured about being nominated for the award. There is a significant amount of work involved and energy expended in an award submission.
Besides a lot of soul searching, reflection and huge feelings of gratitude for everyone who has been a part of my journey, it got me to thinking about why businesses should enter awards. As anyone who has gone through the process will testify, it takes time, energy and a good dollop of realism to piece together your story authentically.
Maintain focus on the bigger picture
It’s a pretty powerful feeling as a business owner to have a range of experts who you’ve never met assess what you’re doing, in this case on paper and in person, and congratulate you for doing a great job. It’s undoubtedly a boost of confidence personally and professionally that we’re on the right track. It is also an opportunity to dig out that old business plan, reflect on what you have achieved and dedicate some time reviewing your goals, strategy and action plan.
Third party endorsement that increases your credibility
In true PR style, a recognised and valued third party endorsing you and your business is worth far more than you doing the same yourself. Being recognised by industry professionals adds weight to your message of being good at what you do and builds trust as you metaphorically piggy back off the third party’s brand value. But you need to shout about it. Think content marketing, social media shout outs, pitch your success to the local and/or industry press, display your award with pride in your office…
Opens up a new network and builds your profile
I can’t think of a better way to become part of something so quickly as to go through an awards process. From a sideline relationship with AIM utilizing their services for training and development, PIER and I have been swiftly and thoroughly accepted into their fold. The contacts that I have made and relationships that I have built even in this very short time have been so valuable, allowing me to expand my thinking, receive feedback for improvement and generally feel the support of industry peers. Like anything however, you get out of it what you put in, so if you get the opportunity, follow up with the assessors/judges/fellow nominees/alumni…Catch up with them for a coffee and strengthen the relationship; there’s nothing like a fresh set of eyes on a business to get you thinking about the possibilities.
Financial rewards that support growth
Many awards come with added benefits of industry membership, access to resources and training or even funding. While this probably isn’t the most strategic way to raise capital, it’s certainly a nice bonus. Combine that with the time you have spent reflecting on your businesses strategy and clarifying your goals for the future then you’re in a strong position to maximise your prize and elevate your business.
Confidence for your clients
In any business, existing client relationships are one of the most precious elements that should be nurtured. By seeking to continually demonstrate your position, value and respect within your industry through the endorsement that awards provide serves to strengthen your client’s feeling that they are in safe hands and that they have made the right decision in using your products or services. Entering awards alongside a client can be a brilliant way to strengthen the relationship.
Celebrating your team
For me, this was the most important element of winning the state finals. While I was recognised for my leadership, I couldn’t have achieved what I have without the amazing PIER team, and I am so grateful for the energy they bring and ownership they demonstrate to PIER. Any public recognition strengthens the pride within a team which shines through in interactions with each other and with clients. It’s also a fantastic attribute when attracting top quality employees.
So, as I head to Brisbane to represent Victoria at the AIM National Leadership Excellence Awards, I know that whatever the next week holds, I am eternally grateful for what the process has afforded me and the PIER team and encourage you all to find a relevant award, put pen to paper, apply and enjoy the journey.
To keep up to date with Catherine’s AIM Awards journey, join PIER Marketing on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/piermarketingaustralia/