When I left Bid & Proposal Con Orlando in 2019, I felt energized and couldn’t wait to share my new knowledge with my colleagues who were unable to attend. Being at the event got me excited about my profession and eager to attend the 2020 conference in Nashville. However, the world had other plans. Luckily, we had this year’s BPC in Denver to reenergize and reengage us through interactions with missed colleagues and live education. Here are six lessons and insights I gathered attending the 2021 event.
1. Find your comfort zone.
When I learned that BPC Denver would actually happen, I was excited and nervous to attend — excited to learn new things, engage with friends and peers, and as one of the Colorado chapter board members, welcome APMP members to our home state. However, as a mother of a young, unvaccinated child, I was nervous to be close to 500 or so other people from around the world.
My fears were quickly put aside when I learned that APMP brought in Inspire Diagnostics to help with PCR testing as well as daily temperature and symptom checks. All attendees were also able to share their COVID comfort level by indicating their social distancing comfort level through red, yellow and green stickers on their name tag. (Thanks to APMP for the COVID protocols put in place to help keep us safe and comfortable at BPC. Personally, I appreciated it.) This set the tone for the rest of the event. While I chose to wear a mask the whole time, others were empowered to choose what felt right to them. It helped me feel comfortable to approach attendees in a respectful manner and remain focused on the educational opportunities in front of me.
2. If you want my attention, you better get it fast!
In Brant Pinvidic’s opening keynote, he shared that humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Yes, that’s right — goldfish! As proposal professionals, we need to keep it simple and offer our audience immediate value because they do not have time for fluff. We have about three minutes to grab our audience’s attention, inform them and lead them to a decision. We should keep this piece of information in mind as we work on our proposals.
3. Lead with empathy and authenticity.
In addition to the lessons learned in Pinvidic’s keynote speech, I found the lessons in another session, “Convince Them: How to Use FBI Hostage Negotiation Techniques to Get More of What You Want from Other People,” to be quite profound. Chip Massey and Adele Cehrs were both engaging presenters who reminded us to use empathy and authenticity to connect with our audience. While Pinvidic shared how people come to a decision, Massey and Cehrs reminded us how emotions play into that decision-making process.
4. Never underestimate the power of a good story.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to listen to Ignite speeches before, you are missing out. Ignite is an awesome program that is filled with inspiring tips that come directly from the presenter’s real-life experiences. Ten presenters had five minutes and 20 slides to share how they got started in the bid and proposal industry and why they love it so much. We learned that everyone has a different path, but every experience truly helps you thrive in your day job. Here are a few takeaways from the Ignite presenters:
- Get your APMP certifications.
- Get “unstuck” in your career.
- Be a faucet, not a drain.
- Take pride in what you do.
- Be relatable and grateful.
- What we do matters.
- Find work that doesn’t exhaust you.
5. Hard work pays off.
As one of the Colorado chapter chairs, our board had been talking about the various ways we could welcome and engage BPC attendees since BPC Orlando ended. We have had numerous discussions about what we could do to help make an impact at this year’s event.
We produced a promotional video to help entice members to attend BPC; sent one chapter member to the event; had a booth welcoming attendees; sponsored the photo booth at the TARA; and hosted a chapter happy hour where we wrapped up our 10-month certification rebate program. Our certification rebate program enabled any chapter member who completed their certification within that 10-month timeframe (and notified our board of their achievement) to receive a partial rebate for the test and were entered into a drawing to get a full rebate. Our full rebate winner was announced at the happy hour.
I am proud of our board’s hard work leading up to BPC and the chapter’s participation in our BPC programs, and it was a unique experience being able to share our hospitality with the broader APMP community.
6. We should all be #ProudToBeAPMP.
One of the most unique things about BPC is the people. Not only are the attendees warm and friendly, but everyone is willing to share their own insights and experiences to help others with their challenges. This is where the best learning comes from — our peers. Throughout the conference, you can find people making new friends by sharing ideas, best practices and their challenges. We all innately bring an unselfish wanting to help others in this community, and it is by far my favorite thing about the conference.
One of the Ignite speakers talked about finding your people — I’ve found mine, and every year, BPC is a reminder of this. I am so proud to be APMP.