More and more women leaders are showing their strengths and gaining visibility for their achievements by entering awards competitions. On November 8, 2017, the 30 finalists and 10 winners of the Business Women of Québec Awards were honoured by 1,000 business men and women who attended the 17th awards gala.
The public and private sectors need leaders to guide them, to inspire them with their vision, generosity, and achievements, and to contribute to local and international socioeconomic development. But how can you get people outside your organization to recognize and reinforce your leadership? One of the most effective ways to gain visibility and increase your profile is to enter awards competitions. Although competitions require an investment in time and self-confidence, they are worth the effort!
How do I strategically choose a competition?
Choose the right competition and the right category
Every year, chambers of commerce across Quebec, professional and alumni associations, and business networks hold competitions to proudly recognize the exceptional people and companies in their sectors. Choosing the right competition for you is crucial.
To start, check whether you’re eligible for the competition and think about how it will help promote your leadership and your company. Read the competition goals, the eligibility and selection criteria, the categories, and the questions as well as the required components you need to submit before the deadline.
Trust in your abilities and take the plunge
Do you qualify? Then throw your hat in the ring! Go over the application questions twice—not just once—to answer them clearly and accurately using examples that back up your answers. Don't be your own worst enemy! Avoid minimizing your initiatives, achievements, or ability to get results. Women, unfortunately, tend to be humble. A word of advice: get someone to help you fairly assess your achievements.
After keeping up with hundreds of finalists over the 17 years of the Business Women of Québec Awards, we can definitely say that the growing number of business women who win these awards inspire other women to enter competitions to reinforce their leadership. And these women have truly generous networks of friends and colleagues who not only encourage them but also help them submit solid applications that shine with confidence.
Take this opportunity to be the leader you are
“Thank you for believing in yourself and for taking the risk to enter the competition. Now, go make the most of this honour and visibility to build your business or career in your own way.” This was the advice from Ruth Vachon, President and CEO of the Quebec Business Women's Network (RFAQ), to the excited finalists waiting to receive their trophies.
Winning a competition isn’t about luck. Nor is it a goal in itself. It is a motivating confirmation of your personal strengths as well as external recognition of everything you’ve achieved and every challenge you’ve faced.
As we all know, women entrepreneurs encounter more challenges when accessing funding and markets, and this affects their economic development. For many women, going to their financial institution with a trophy in hand is convincing proof of their leadership skills. Being visible on websites in your industry or in the local media also makes you a more familiar face for clients, which can in turn get you more referrals and open doors to potential customers that were previously closed.
To establish their leadership in Canadian and international markets, women who lead companies can take recognized certification programs, such as WBE Canada and WEConnect International. Thanks to the Développement économique Féminin program created by the RFAQ, women-owned businesses in Quebec have benefited from training and support since 2012 for trade missions in Canada and to the United States and from support and close funding partnerships with government agencies and financial or professional services institutions.
The work and success of women entrepreneurs combined with the generosity of the network partners who support them and the large companies that buy their products and services are rewarded through annual sectoral competitions in Quebec and Canada. From the start, Quebec women have stepped up as leaders.
“For many women, going to their financial institution with a trophy in hand is convincing proof of their leadership skills.”
Celebrate and thank
Are you proud to be an award-winning business woman? Celebrate this milestone with everyone who helped you get there—and who can help you reinforce your leadership.
This ripple effect will be small and short-lived if you don't take advantage of it. Make the most of your moment of glory! Strategically surf social networks and go to networking activities to be seen and to meet people who can help you get to the next level. Pay it forward by helping other women and men achieve their goals.
Your job now? Inspire others
With great honour comes great responsibility to make the most of your leadership. For women entrepreneurs, leaders, executives and professionals, the example you set must inspire through concrete actions that show generosity and openness to others.
Danièle Henkel, Honorary Chairwoman of the 2017 Business Women of Québec Awards and President of Entreprises Daniele Henkel, is herself a winner of many awards. To the finalists she said, “My fellow business women, how will you put this honour to good use? By encouraging the next generation, and particularly young women, to go into sectors that are still overly dominated by men. We need representatives in science, technology and innovation, and—of course—on our boards of directors.”
To break the glass ceiling, we know how important it is to work with men who understand the benefits of diversity.
Many women business leaders have come out of the shadows and are proud of their success and grateful for the support of the people around them. Respond to their inspiring leadership by having confidence in the value of your journey. Be the business women whom others want to have in their network and who concretely and generously help advance women and society. Go for it! Because, right now, anything is possible.
Photo credit: Stéphanie Colvey, photographer
In the photo: Julie Cailliau, Editor-in-Chief, Les Affaires Group; Jocelyna Dubuc, winner of the Achievement award, President and CEO, Spa Eastman; Danièle Henkel, Honorary Chairwoman of the 2017 Business Women of Québec Awards, President of Entreprises Daniele Henkel; Jean Séguin, Assistant Deputy Minister for External Trade and Export Québec, Ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation; Ruth Vachon, President and CEO, Quebec Business Women's Network.