How to Make the Most of Bid and Proposal Con
Bid and Proposal Con. It’s like an amusement park for the proposal professional—and this year, it’s fittingly located in Orlando! Bid and Proposal Con is a time where I dedicate four straight days to my professional development. I get to reunite with people I haven’t seen in months. I get to meet new people and make new connections. And I have the opportunity to learn new best practices, further hone my professional skills, and share my own proposal insights.
But with so much jam packed into four days, Bid and Proposal Con can also be overwhelming. Especially for those attending for the first time, you may not have any idea about how to take full advantage of this exciting event. Though I am a Bid and Proposal Con novice compared to some of my colleagues, I have developed some strategies over the years to get the most out of the conferences that I can. I share these tips below, and I hope that others out there will chime as well!
Similar to proposal development, preparation is key for Bid and Proposal Con. APMP provides many useful resources so that you’re not going into the event blind. Here’s what I suggest to prepare:
Download the App. The app puts everything you need in the palm of your hand. Everything from hotel maps with restrooms locations, the presentation schedule, a list of presenters, discussion boards, and more. Here are links to download the app, if you haven’t done so already:
Plan out Your Schedule. With many great sessions to choose from, it can be overwhelming to make an on-the-spot decision as to which you’d like to attend. So take some time before you head to the conference and pick which sessions you’d like to target. If you have downloaded the app, you can even select these events and add them to your personal schedule. Don’t worry, you won’t be committed to these selections. The schedules are simply there for your benefit!
Plan for Some Excursions. Since many of these conferences are destination trips, research the area and find some things you’d like to do outside of the conference. Last year I visited the San Diego Zoo, took a trip to Coronado Island, and ate my way through an exciting Yelp list. It was amazing! This year you might check out one of the local amusement parks, plan a day trip to the beach, indulge in some time by the pool, or plan a day at the spa.
To get the most out of the event, it’s really not enough just to show up. You’ll get so much more out of the event if you participate actively, ask questions, and make new connections. Here are some ways I recommend to stay engaged:
Be an Active Participant. The purpose of Bid and Proposal Con is to share best practices and to learn. So make sure you are taking full advantage of this opportunity. If you want to know more about a certain topic or need clarification on something presented, speak up! The sessions are much more effective when there is strong audience participation.
Network. In addition to maintaining your existing connections, be sure to reach outside your existing network, meet new people, and build new relationships. We become better at what we do by learning from each other. And even though the conference happens just once a year, we can learn from one another constantly. Make sure you are building and maintaining the network to make that happen.
Attend the Evening Events. To make the most of the week, I recommend attending the evening events. These provide the opportunity to build relationships in a more relaxed environment. These events are also a great way to catch up with the people you didn’t get a chance to connect with during the day.
Schedule Some Downtime. With breakfast starting at 7:00 a.m. and evening events running sometimes as late as 9:00 p.m., make sure to schedule some downtime into your schedule. Make time to relax, rest, and recuperate. This will keep your immune system from wearing down so that you can remain energized and focused throughout the week.
Similar to how we look back on our proposal and capture efforts through lessons learned, it’s important for us to make time for reflection after the conference. This will better enable us to target key takeaways and embrace some of those new best practices into our established proposal processes.
Reflect on What You Learned. It’s critical to reflect on what you have learned once the conference has ended. Pick some things that you want to embrace in how you approach the profession. Write them down. Throughout the year, monitor whether you are following through.
Take Ideas Back to Your Company. Identify some best practices that you would like for your company to embrace and write down the benefits of each. Share these ideas with your team and document any resulting implementation goals. To increase the chances of successful adoption, set up a plan for achieving these goals, and track your progress regularly.
Gain Credit for Your CEUs. The conference is a great way to keep up with your required CEUs for maintaining your APMP certifications. So don’t forget to log your experience in your profile at apmp.org. Once logged in, go to My ProfileàManage ProfileàProfessional Development.
Follow up with the People You Met. It’s great to meet new people, but make sure you maintain those relationships! Connect with your new contacts on LinkedIn. If they are local to your area, schedule some time to meet up in person once you both return from the event. You can’t continue to learn from one another if you don’t maintain communication lines!
Like an amusement park with many options and limited time, Bid and Proposal Con can be overwhelming, especially for first-time attendees. To get the most out of the conference, I make sure to prepare before the event, using the app to plan my schedule and strategy. During the conference, I make sure to engage and participate actively. I use the networking time to reconnect with colleagues as well as build new relationships. And finally, following the event, I make sure to reflect on my experience so I can embrace and apply what I have learned.
If you are a first time attendee, or just looking for more ways to make the most out of your conference experience, I hope you have found this article helpful. If you have some personal tips that I haven’t covered, I hope you will share those with us as well!
Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)