Awards entry worth the effort

We all do it. We put the deadline date in the diary. It’s weeks away so we promise ourselves we’ll spend an hour or two considering that awards entry a week before the deadline.

An award that could potentially give our business and our people deserved recognition, industry endorsement and prestige.

And then, it’s deadline day.

The reminder screams off the page in your diary or pops up on your computer screen and you have that sinking feeling. You don’t have the resources or the time to consider the categories or criteria and you don’t think you’ll win anyway.

Rather than taking time out – time that you don’t have- and spending time on the entry, you think ‘I’ll enter next year’ – and that’s that.

The shortlist is announced and you realise that your organisation and your people are just as deserving of being on that list as those that are potentially going to win.

So is entering for awards really worth the effort?

Last year saw our first Women in Business NI Awards. The interest surpassed all our expectations, in terms of the number of entries received and those wishing to attend the ceremony.

More than 350 businessmen and women attended the glittering event and apart from the opportunity of winning the silverware, the men and women who attended found real benefit in celebrating the successes of the outstanding women on the shortlist from which the eventual winners were picked. The sense of achievement was palpable.

Whether you’re a sole trader, small-business owner or a business leader in a larger organisation, entering and winning awards can give a real confidence boost to your business and your staff.

It reinforces that you’re serious about your business and the industry in which you trade, shows the judges that you’ve worked hard to continue to trade in one of the toughest economic trading times in recent history and gives you credibility among your peers and competitors.

Speaking of this year’s Women in Business NI Awards, enterprise, trade and investment minister Foster said: “Northern Ireland’s women have a reputation for working hard and achieving success, both locally and in the global marketplace and the second Women in Business NI Awards are a fitting acknowledgement of the contribution women make to our economy.

“These awards recognise all that is good about being a woman in business in Northern Ireland. I would encourage entrepreneurs and those in senior management positions to consider the categories, enter and seek the recognition that their efforts deserve.”

Taking time out to consider an awards submission and tailoring the application to the category and criteria you wish to be considered for is invaluable.

I know that it can take considerable time to plan and submit an entry but the prestige of winning an award and the potential growth for the company must outweigh the time required to make the submission.

A succinct entry is invaluable for the judging panel. It can be the difference between winning or not and can give you the opportunity to focus your mind on achievements that you may have ordinarily taken for granted.

The marketing and public relations opportunities set you apart – winning enhances your reputation, assists in raising your profile by creating a story for you and gives you a talking point for impressing potential employees and customers.

It makes you more attractive for doing business with and shows that you’re committed to continuous improvement and business excellence.

Ultimately, being an award winner can be a deal clincher.

According to those who attended our awards ceremony last year, the event itself provided a great networking opportunity but this year we have created an additional benefit with the first ever ‘Women in Business NI Retreat’.

This day-long exclusive and intimate event will bring together the 2012 Women in Business NI Awards shortlist with the newly formed ‘Women in Business Awards Alumni’.

Born out of our inaugural awards, the alumni represents a cross-section of Northern Ireland’s economic framework, including female business leaders from across the manufacturing, environmental, retail, digital, professional services and hospitality industries.

Aimed at stimulating quality networking that builds sustainable business connections and personal development, the 30 women who secure a place at the retreat will hear from some of Northern Ireland’s leading industry experts. These inspirational speakers will be on hand to impart knowledge at bespoke masterclasses and workshops which will be tailored to address business development, improvement and growth.

There’s just over a month until the deadline – don’t leave it too late to enter.

Categories, details of how to enter and the application form for the Women in Business NI Awards, sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland, can be found at

The deadline for entries is September 28 and the awards ceremony will be held on Thursday November 22 in the Ramada Hotel, Belfast.

Women in Business NI membership is a cost-effective way of reaching hundreds of potential new contacts. It is the largest and fastest growing business network for female entrepreneurs and business leaders in Northern Ireland.

Established in 2002, the network has almost 800 members spread throughout all industry sectors.

Follow Women in Business NI on facebook at or on twitter @wibni.