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.

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