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Here are my 16 top tips for filling out awards application forms that will help you save time, avoid the stress and submit a winning entry!
- Be aware of all your dates and deadlines. Put reminders in your diary and diarise all deadlines in your online calendar system. Do not get caught out and do not leave your submission to the last minute. Generally, there is a run to upload application forms at the last minute, which means that the system could fail, the forms could not upload. You really don’t need this stress in your life. It’s easily avoidable with a little advance planning.
- Look at the terms and conditions for each category to make sure you are eligible to enter. Do not assume anything (ever!).
- If the application form is online, copy and paste it over to a word document and save it. Depending on your system, be aware of your version control, as you may have a flash of inspiration, do some wonderful writing and then your computer dies and you lose the content. Just keep saving, saving, saving. These days I tend to do a lot of writing in Evernote, as I can do it through the app and online. It literally saves every few seconds, so it gives me huge peace of mind.
- Read all the questions a couple of times and make sure you understand them and what is being asked? If in doubt, talk to someone who has trodden the path before you and get some advice, input and guidance.
- Start doing a brain dump and literally write down all your thoughts as they enter your mind. If you are out and about, hoovering the lounge, bathing the kids, out to dinner with friends, a thought may pop in to your head, so have a Note open on your iPhone or the Evernote app to record any nuggets.
- Don’t analyse your brain dump at this stage. Let your thoughts roam free and jot down all the achievements and successes you’ve had to date. Think about how you would like to position yourself and your company. Remember, the outsider reading your application knows nothing about your or your business. So what do you want to convey? What do you want them to know about you?
- Be mindful of the word count for each section. The word count is an indicator about the importance placed on that question. You may find it easier to answer one question over another, so be savvy and work out how to incorporate all the key points that you’ve itemised from point 5 & 6 that you want to get across to the judges. You can space them out through the document in a coherent fashion.
- Testimonials can be included to qualify a statement or achievement.
- If you have faced challenges and pivoted your business, don’t be afraid to tell this story – it speaks to your resilience and grit as to how you overcame adversity to help your business grow and continue to thrive.
- Make sure that your points are sequential and you are telling a story and getting the journey of growing your business across to the reader, i.e. the judges.
- Answer all questions and include all requested information such as logos, pictures etc in the resolution requested. 300dpi means high resolution jpg. 72dpi means it’s for web usage and is low resolution. If you include a low resolution file when a print quality image is requeseted, it won’t reflect well on you or your brand. The image will be pixelated when printed.
- I’ve blogged before about the importance of having a professional photograph. Now you know why!
- Generally there will be a short bio section and a longer bio section. This information is what will be pulled out to create the awards document and brochure. Write it and read it back as if you were a customer. Imagine yourself at the gala dinner. You open the brochure and starting reading all the profiles. Are you happy with how you are conveying your brand and business?
- Print off the document, leave it over night and then read it again. The reason for this is two fold. You cannot proof from the screen, as your eyes only see what they want to see. You need to read from paper and you need to read it out loud. This will help you find the grammatical and punctuation errors. You’ll find out if the content flows. You’ll notice if you’ve used the same adjective over and over, which needs to be replaced with a wider variety of wording and descriptors. It will also trigger things you’ve forgotten to mention and you’ll need to edit your content again.
- Do not go over the word count. It’s there for a reason. This is also why I suggest putting everything into word or Evernote, as you’ll have to make the content concise and precise. Filtering and distilling information can be harder than it seems, so allow yourself sufficient time to do this. Contracting all your amazing information can be hard.
- I’ve come across applicants who didn’t want to enter due to dyslexia or other perceived difficulties. Do not let anything stop you. If you are running a business and have something that makes things a little more difficult, find someone who can do the writing for you. Don’t hide behind any excuse – help will ALWAYS be at hand.
I hope that you have found these 16 top tips for filling out awards application forms useful.
If you’ve others to add to the list, please send them in to me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I’ve love to add them to the list and make it easier for future awards applications.
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