By Keri Herlong, CPCU, CIC, CRM, CISR, ACSR, AIM, CIIP, CLP, DAE, CRIS
If you’ve heard those words spoken from an IAIP podium and your name is the one that follows, you know how gratifying they can be. I have won several awards from IAIP, as well as submitted applications for association awards. The feeling when your name or association is announced as a winner is indescribable.
My first “official” award was The National Alliance’s Texas Outstanding CSR of the Year, which I received in 2004. I was also a National Finalist that year, and even though I didn’t win the whole shebang, I was thrilled to be in the company of such amazing professionals. That was the experience that made me realize that it’s okay to let the light shine on you a little. My next award was ten years later – Member of the Year of my local association. That was an award that our members decided, and I was shocked to have been chosen.
I began applying for awards a couple of years after being involved in IAIP. I had attended my first Regional Conference (my own Las Vegas Insurance Professionals was the host association) and that was my first experience seeing others receive awards. I was impressed with each winner’s acceptance, how gracious they were, and yet how much they had done for the industry. I remember wanting to be like them, and so the next year, I took the time to complete and submit an application. I didn’t win that time, but I wasn’t sad (well, maybe a little). The person who did win the award I submitted for was clearly more qualified than I and was also my friend! So, though I was a little sad for me, I was extra happy for her. Celebrating someone else’s win during your time of loss is quite an emotional experience. I have lost other times, and since that first time, I am no longer sad. I know that next year, there will be one less competitor.
Each time I submitted an application, I felt like I was “practicing”. I never thought that I would be the winner – not because I am not worthy, but because I was in the company of fierce competitors. When I did win my first IAIP award (one for which I submitted an application), I was thrilled. It was my turn on stage! That was my opportunity to thank those who went before me and laid the path that I began walking with IAIP. Even more than winning the award, being able to publicly express my gratitude to the women and men who influenced my path was such a delight for me.
Winning these awards isn’t just for me, although it is my name on the plaque. My employer also benefits, as does IAIP. I let my manager know about my activities and awards, and that information gets passed on to our communications department; they issue press releases, which include my name, my employer’s name, and IAIP. That in turn generates interest from others in me, my employer, and IAIP. Because of my involvement in IAIP and being conscientious to update my LinkedIn profile whenever I win, I believe my employer found me, was impressed with my online resume, and connected with me to offer me a job.
Of course, I couldn’t have won the award without completing the application for it. I know that some people may look at the application and think “no way.” There are several components to complete, which means that submitting an application for an award can be daunting. I’ll go over the top three objections to completing an application and show you how easy it is to overcome them.
The three most challenging sections of the application to complete are IAIP Involvement, Education, and Essay.
This section requires details on each elected office, regional directorship, chair or membership in a task force or committee for the past five years. Even if you’ve only held one office, don’t let that dissuade you from completing an application. If you’ve held so many that you can’t remember, and haven’t kept track, completing this section is a great way to get started. Here are some suggestions on where you can find details:
Local or Regional Historian
It is the historian’s responsibility to maintain records of the association’s (or Region’s) member activities. The historian may be able to refer you to files where you can search for your name.
Local Association Secretary
The secretary should keep details on committee chairs and membership for each membership year. They should also have information in the association board or general meeting minutes which may help to identify where you have volunteered.
What do you like to do?
Think about the things that bring you joy – fundraising, proofreading, program writing, etc. Any of the things that you like may be something that you have volunteered for in the past.
Search your email
Search your email for keywords like “IAIP,” “volunteer,” “chair,” etc. I have emails going back more than ten years that I didn’t know I had because I searched for something and found an old email. Depending on your email service, you may find information you didn’t know you had.
Look at your association’s committee list
For example, when you see “budget/audit committee,” it might trigger a memory of when you served or chaired the audit for your association.
Regional meeting minutes or regional meeting program
We have all probably had the experience of being asked to chair or serve on a regional committee at the last minute. Since it was a brief task (like protocol, for example), we probably did it and then forgot about it. It should be in the program or meeting minutes.
Search for your name on the IAIP website
Anytime your name was published on the website, there should be a record.
Ask your friends and association members for help.
They may remember something that you forgot.
The application asks for industry education you have attended as a student, and for some applications, education you have taught as an instructor. If you haven’t taught anything, that’s ok. Most people who hold licenses have annual requirements for continuing education for their license renewals. For those who hold various designations, those have annual CE requirements to renew the designation. You can access those various education websites and pull your records from there.
For IAIP education, log on to the IAIP website and click “Manage Profile” (up at the top). Click the Professional Development tab, and you will see a list of every IAIP class you have taken.
Even if you only take one class a year, or don’t take any education at all, don’t let that stop you from submitting an application. Yours may be the only one that is received!
Finally, the essay. This is probably the one that has most people pulling the reins. Not everyone likes to write, but the essay is mostly about explaining what you do, what you’ve done (accomplishments), and what you want to do (your career goals) – all things that should be easy to explain. There is also usually an element that asks you to comment on an issue facing insurance professionals, and we should all be able to think of something. What do you see that is a problem? What suggestions have you made (or at least thought of) that would fix something? Where do you see the industry headed? Your essay doesn’t have to be as eloquent as a thesis, it just needs to hit the points clearly. Your awards chair would be happy to help you (as would I) if you are struggling with writing your essay.
It goes without saying (but I’m still saying it) to read the instructions and adhere to them. Don’t provide more than is asked for. If it asks for five years of information, give five only. If it asks for only council, regional, and international activities, don’t include your local. Anything you include that is not specifically requested won’t count, and you’re wasting your time.
Submit as early as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute on the day the application is due. Your RVP wants applications and winners to go on to International, so if he or she sees something in your application that needs correction or clarification, they will communicate with you to help you.
Feel free to ask for help. There are many in this association who genuinely want to see our members be recognized and go as far as they can. They can proofread your application, make suggestions, and even help you with your essay, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Once you have submitted an application, save it as a new file for next year. Throughout the year, as you are involved in IAIP, make record of those committees or positions where you serve. When you take or teach a new class, add it to that new file. Once you’ve completed the first application, every one that follows is so much easier.
It is always disheartening to sit in the audience and discover that IAIP has no award winner for a category because there were no applications. Hopefully, “I’m not worthy” is not one of the reasons you’re not submitting. It is so hard for many professionals to seek recognition. There is nothing wrong with proclaiming who you are and what you’ve done in this industry, so please take the time to complete your first application. You won’t regret it!
Keri Herlong is a Commercial Underwriting Consultant for Acuity. She has been a member of IAIP for over ten years and is a Nevada MAL. Since joining the association, she has served at the local level as Secretary, President-Elect, and President. She is Education Director for Region VII and serves on the International Education Task Force. Keri has earned several awards from IAIP, including International Risk Manager of the Year 2021 and International Confidence While Communicating Speak-Off Winner 2020. She also chairs or serves on numerous committees within IAIP at the regional and international levels. Keri earned an AS in Psychology (Summa Cum Laude) from California Coast University. In 2021, she published her first book, Hindsight 2020, under the pen name Jessie Jericho.