This post is the first of several I’ll write regarding the recent APMP Bid & Proposal Con 2012, held May 22-25, 2012 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.
At this year’s conference I had the honor and privilege of being asked to present or participate in five sessions, as well as presenting the Strategic Proposals Commercial Proposals Masterclass on the day prior to the start of the conference. Strategic Proposals was also sponsor and exhibitor, so as you might imagine, it was a very busy week.
The Strategic Proposals Commercial Proposal Masterclass
This was the first time we offered the Commercial Proposals Masterclass in conjunction with the annual APMP conference. This was done, in part, to support the efforts by APMP to give more focus to the commercial sector. (This workshop was also presented earlier this year in conjunction with the APMP NCA Chapter Boot Camp held in April.)
The workshop was very well attended and received, with participants coming from various industries within the commercial sector, such as telecom, software development, insurance, consulting and manufacturing. There were even a couple of people with a current primary focus in government who said they were attending to “broaden their perspective” and “because there’s always something to be learned by participating in a workshop presented by Strategic Proposals”. The feedback from participants was extremely positive, and several participants commented that they were excited and encouraged to see a workshop specifically for those who worked on commercial proposals offered in conjunction with the conference. (The plan is to offer the Commercial Proposals Masterclass on October 23rd, in Atlanta, in conjunction with/and the day prior to the APMP SPAC Conference (details to be announced soon).
The First Time Attendees Workshop – Getting the Most Out of APMP Bid & Proposal Con 2012
This session, as the title would suggest, was intended for those attending the annual APMP conference for the first time. I had the privilege and pleasure of co-developing and co-facilitating this workshop with Mike Parkinson of 24 Hr. Co.
The objectives for the workshop, as Mike and I told the participants, were to:
- Get you connected with APMP
- Get you connected with other first time attendees
- Help you get the most out of your conference experience
- Get energized, have fun!
Getting connected with APMP:
To help the first time attendees connect with one another we played “Stand Up If”, wherein we made statements and if it was true for the individual, they stood up. As participants stood up in response to the various statements made, we learned:
Participants had come to the conference from almost every state in the nation, as well as from several other countries including Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Germany, India and China.
The number of years of experience with proposals participants had, with this ranging from as much as 25+ years to as little as “I start when I get back from the conference.”
The respective roles of the participants, discovering there were proposal writers, managers, group leaders and even a couple of sales people. (Obviously, the latter were smart enough to appreciate the benefit of attending a conference focused on proposals.)
We then presented a quiz on “APMP History”, to get the participants connected with APMP. Questions covered statistical information, APMP chapters, previous conferences and some miscellaneous trivia. For each question, we provided the answer and a bit of additional information. Here’s a sampling of the questions asked and the associated answer and related information.
Question: How many people were in attendance at the very first official meeting of APMP?
Answer: c) 28 – held on August 16, 1989; B.J. Lownie was in attendance.
Question: In how many countries is APMP currently represented?
Answer: b) 59 – including Argentina, China, Croatia, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Guam, Iraq, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Russia, Turkey, Venezuela… to name a few.
Question: What percentage of APMP members have achieved some level of accreditation?
Answer: d) 60%
Levels – Foundation, Practitioner, Professional
Practitioner : 286
Getting connected with other first time attendees:
Next up we presented an “Introduction Exercise” wherein the participants were directed to meet with 3 or 4 other first time attendees and introduce themselves to each other. The format that we suggested included their name, location, title/role, years of experience, what they enjoyed most about proposals and their objective(s) for the conference. We also suggested they share something about themselves such as a hobby, interest or their background. The conversations were lively and loud and it was with some reluctance that Mike and I brought the exercise to an end and the group back to their seats.
Helping to get the most out of the conference experience:
Next up we covered “The Conference Schedule and Sessions”. Within this section of our presentation Mike and I offered our tips and advice drawn from our experience attending the conference many times over the years. This included suggesting the attendees have a plan for which sessions they would attend, and offering our opinion that they should be sure to attend the keynotes and main room sessions as these would be very worthwhile and no doubt, informative and engaging.
We suggested they “Try something new” and consider attending a session on a topic which was new to them or perhaps somewhat outside of their typical area. We also recommended they “Try something old” and attend a session with a topic they felt they knew well and from which they perhaps would not get much benefit, as we believed they probably would pick up useful reminders or even new information.
We pointed out that many sessions would be available on line after the conference but that they should still take notes so that they would later be able to recall each session. We pointed out it was our experience that the sessions tend to “run together” after consecutively attending several each day, as would be the case for this conference.
We also highlighted that they should plan to attend both the awards banquet and the closing session. We pointed out that this was the first conference in which an awards banquet was being held and that it would include dinner and dancing, as well as the giving out of awards. (The awards banquet was a huge success and I’ll provide details on it in a future post.)
To close out the “Schedules and Sessions” portion of our presentation, we let the participants know they should be sure to attend the closing session as this was when the vendors gave out prizes (by drawing one of many business cards received from attendees who visited their booth). We let them know that this year, for the first time ever, there were also worthwhile, highly appealing grand prizes being given out by APMP and that their attendance was required at the closing session in order to win. The two prizes were: $1000 cash, and, an all-expense paid trip to next year’s conference in Atlanta, including airfare, hotel, registration and even tickets to the awards banquet.
We then covered, “Networking”, offering such tips as not to be shy and to say hi to someone new and introduce themselves. We suggested they meet new people and not just stay with people they know, and challenged them to set a goal of meeting as many new people as possible during the conference.
In our section on “Exhibitors”, we again suggested that they not be shy and that they stop at the various booths to find out what the vendors offered. We suggested they get promotional material, pointing out that the vendors wanted them to have it. Here too, we suggested they challenge themselves to visit as many exhibits as possible, pointing out that even if a vendor/product isn’t relevant for you now, it’s good for future reference.
Get energized and have fun:
In our final section of our presentation, Mike and I presented our “Tips” for the conference. In this section we suggested the first time attendees would do well to:
Arrange to have lunch/dinner with the new people they met at the conference.
Step outside and get some fresh air.
Manage their energy level as the conference covers three days and starts early, suggesting they be careful with the late nights and alcohol consumption.
Be careful as to how much food they consumed as “There’s lots of food, including desserts and snacks, and it’s really easy to eat more than you intended.”
Get out and see the sights in Dallas and that “You want to make sure you get a ride on the trolley.”
Relax, enjoy yourself, have fun!
We concluded our session by once again welcoming them to the conference and to the “APMP Family”, highlighting the key points we had covered and thanking them for attending the session.
Wishing them a great conference experience, we headed down the hall to the opening reception of the conference. (This was, in my opinion, by far and by all measures, the best opening reception to date. I’ll provide details on it in a future post.)
Be sure to watch for Part 2 of Five Sessions Later covering The Great Debate which was presented by the new APMP Improv troupe The Type ‘O’s, of which I was honored to be a member.