On Awards, Competitions and Membership
Posted on December 22, 2015
I will start this with a totally obvious brag that I won Fusion Halifax”s Innovation Award for 2013. That got me to thinking why I enjoy taking part in awards, we all like to be recognized for the things we do and even see how we stack up against our peers but that was never my reason. Awards are, to me, a way of gaining social proof in your industry and community. They look great to those who may choose to do business with you. After all, references are nice and you may have a crack work history, but everyone should have those things. Awards are a way to jump to the head of the pack; when you win an award, it tells everyone else that a group of people reviewed you, and decided you were better than the rest.
Also, nothing makes networking at an event easier than having your name announced to everyone and being handed an award. Everyone will want to talk to you because you are elevated to a higher level.
When I was still a student, I took part in a few business competitions. The first few didn”t even earn me a callback, but as I developed my skills, I started to do better. By the end of university, I had won some cash, met and impressed some of the judges (often potential employers), and learned how to apply my education to situations outside the classroom. All of these things went on my resume but at the end of the day what they did for me was give me things to talk about at networking events. I could demonstrate that as a student I had applied my education; proof that I really understood the material beyond test scores.\r\n\r\nThis was a way to demonstrate to potential employers that not only was I great, but that others, sometimes a panel of others, had deemed me better than others. This acts like a validation. People like to go with a crowd, and if I was good enough for the panel of judges, I might be good enough for them as well.
Memberships are less about being deemed better (unless they are exclusive) and more about getting involved with a community. These groups will give you more opportunities to network, and will often have the same people at each event. This gives you a chance to really get to know people and make an impression. You may even get the chance to join the already established community. They will start to remember you, what you do, and over time (if you do it right) view you as someone who knows their craft, which can lead to personal endorsements.
I always view memberships in two different ways: The memberships you register for, and the group memberships that you earn. You earn these by being present in a community or regular event, and becoming known in that circle as someone of note. You will need to put in the time on the second but, you can get started by joining the first. Search your area and find local groups that you can check out. This is the first step to getting your name out there.