All organisations thrive on their networks. Opportunities for some women in business to develop social capital through networking, however, can be limited, and Women’s Business Awards, in my experience, can do a lot to fill the gap.
Business Awards can pro-actively increase opportunities for social contacts in terms of volume, quality, diversity and in a variety of different contexts, and critically enable women to develop social capital out of the networking activities.
Here are 15 social capital opportunities that can arise from holding Women’s Business Awards, starting with individual benefits for women who are shortlisted and runners up, as well as the ultimate winners
1 Increased confidence for women in business – third party endorsement is a very powerful motivator;
2 Greater visibility;
3 A voice which is now heard (women have said that they say the same things as award winners as they said before, but now newspapers want to quote them and they are invited as guest speakers at a variety of events!);
4 Increased contacts and networks;
5 More business
Collective benefits for women entrepreneurs
6 Increased profile and credibility;
7 Greater interest from the media;
8 Voice – the media both regional and national regularly want to quote these women in articles on a variety of topics;
9 Acceptance into mainstream business networks;
10 People see that women do business and should therefore be invited to and accepted on mainstream business committees and events.
Benefits for other stakeholders
11 Support agencies are given credit for support and have their profiles raised. They are also given access to women role models that they can use to generate business;
12 Media – newspaper and journals have ready-made copy for articles on women in business;
13 Funders are aware of the profile they are given for their sponsorship monies that goes far beyond the awards themselves;
14 Access to women entrepreneurs
15 Event organisers engage in a series activities that practically demonstrate a multi-levelled process of relationship building including winning support for awards through sponsorship, communication with the media and the business support sector, and most importantly of all encouraging buy in from the women entrepreneurs themselves.
It has been suggested to me more than once that Business Awards do nothing more than hail glory on those who have already achieved success in business. Whilst, in itself, I question whether there’s anything particularly wrong about that, hopefully the list above demonstrates that there’s a significant amount to gain through Women’s Business Awards in the development of social capital.