Wednesday, 30 May 2007

7 Tips for Nominating an Associate for Recognition

By Debby Peters

Developing a strong relationship with a person in your network is helpful to you and rewarding to that person. One method that accelerates how well you know that person is to nominate him for an award. There are plenty of opportunities to do so. Here in Toledo we have many award possibilities: 20 Under 40, The Milestones, Entrepreneur of the Year and The Athena Award to name just a few. Of course, you may be aware of industry awards or even company recognitions that will deliver the same powerful thrust.

Below I have listed seven steps to nominating someone for an award.

1. Read the nomination form completely to understand what is needed. Note the deadline. You will want to complete the entry at least four to five days prior to this date. Follow instructions to the letter. Give as much information as possible but no more than allowed. If the form asks for the nomination to be no more than two pages in length, don’t give three. Having been on several judging committees for awards, I can tell you that I probably had a bias towards the ones that stayed within the guidelines. Think of reading a hundred entries. Any extra was not a good thing!

2. Select the person to nominate. Put some thought into it. Match the person to the award. Tell him that you will be nominating him and why you think he is a good candidate. That statement alone will strengthen an already robust relationship. This step is crucial to the success. It tells him of your interest and support, but you will also need information from your nominee to deliver a winning entry.

3. Be sure your nominee fits all the criteria for the honor. Is there a residency requirement? Should the person have lived in a certain area for a minimum period of time? Has he demonstrated the qualities that are a fit for the award?

4. Answer the nomination questionnaire in a rough draft. Give very specific examples instead of generalities. For example, “He’s a wonderful person,” really doesn’t tell the selection committee very much. Instead, “He has helped five people to start successful businesses in our community, and because of his ongoing interest, all are continuing that success today,” gives an idea of the nominee’s accomplishment. Don’t be concerned about the length of your replies, editing will come later.

5. Ask your nominee for input to the questionnaire. This will be in two forms. You’ll want his perceptions, but more important, you’ll want to find out the names of other people that you can contact for information. Using others’ observations and including their names and quotes in the nomination will add credibility and power to your words.

6. Now that you have your rough draft written, it is time to edit.

a. Is it the right length? If not, more than likely it is too long. Find the core pieces that must stay, find parts that can be shortened and eliminate lesser narrative. If you must shorten a quote, do so carefully to keep the meaning intact. Get back to the person you quoted for permission to use the new version. Fine tune until it is the required length. b. Word process your nomination. The selection committee will have many to read and react to in a fairly short time period. Make it easy for them to clearly understand why your nominee should win. c. Send your final copy to the nominee to be sure that all facts are accurate. d. Read one last time. e. If appropriate, send via email or fax. I would also follow with a paper copy either by mail or hand delivery. Emails have been known to disappear into outer space!

7. What does not work?

a) Substituting a list or organizations the nominee belongs to instead of providing an explanation of how he makes a contribution to those groups. Many people can be just an inactive member of an organization. A list really doesn’t tell the story.

b) Not answering all questions on the nomination form. That could indicate the person you’ve nominated is not really a fit for the honor.

c) Some awards have multiple categories. The Milestones award in Toledo is an example of this. Choose just one category and make the best nomination for that specific section. Selecting two or three categories, hedging your bet, means most likely that your nomination efforts will be diluted. Concentrate on just one area.

d) Using too few or no other sources for information. Even if you know him well, one person cannot know everything about another.

e) Only using copies of web pages as the nomination.

f) Sending copies of articles written by or about the person nominated. Instead, if the information is that important, use a small excerpt or quote from it.

g) Not including a summary statement. A short sentence or two re-stating the main criteria and how your nominee meets these will help to “close the sale.”

Finally, remember the reasons for making the effort to compile this information. Yes, winning is fun, but the actual nomination process will honor the person and will help your relationship level to increase. Additionally, if he doesn’t win this year, you can nominate him again next time. He might have been a very highly-rated, runner-up and will be looked at favorably the next time around.

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