This time next month, we'll announce the winners of the 7th annual M&A Mid- Market Awards, which will honor the leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market in 2013. As I'm writing this, it's Jan. 31, the last day we're accepting nominations. It's a good moment to share some thoughts about the nomination process and what we look for in award-winning candidates.

We made two important changes in the nomination process this year.

The first was that we pushed back the deadline to make it later than in previous years. This was in response to feedback from many companies, who said they needed the full month of January to analyze their deals and data from the previous year. The change also resulted in moving the announcement of the winners from the March issue of the magazine to the April issue.

Another improvement to the process is that we launched an online system for submitting nominations. Whereas the old system offered little guidance on what information to include in the submission, the e-forms allow us to ask specific questions that will help us compare apples to apples. As folks filled out the e-forms, some had questions, and we were able to make modifications based on this input. Our goal is to make the process as apparent as possible, and we continue to seek your feedback as we improve the system.

One thing that hasn't changed is our criteria. We're still looking for companies and individuals who overcame the challenges the year brought and who took their business to the next level. Performance is important, but league tables aren't everything. Growth counts for a lot, especially when it outpaces peers and the overall industry. Innovation also counts. We value companies that changed the M&A landscape or ventured into new territories. And thought leadership in the industry is also relevant.

We're always looking for feedback and input, so if you have any suggestions or questions, please email me at marykathleen.flynn@sourcemedia.com. And be sure to check our website www.themiddlemarket.com on Wed., March 19, when we'll announce the winners.

Look for full coverage in the April issue.

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