The Greatest Bid & Proposal Show on Earth, Period.

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Keynote speaker Christine Cashen kicks off and rocks APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con 2018 in San Diego

Thank you to all who attended the APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con last week. We’re grateful that so many of you made the trip to San Diego to connect, learn and celebrate with APMP. It was our largest Bid & Proposal Con to date, with 1,027 members from around the world. We still can’t believe it is over just two-and-a-half days after started.

As many of you know, we rolled out a new education format this year, with our members driving more of the agenda. We had 40 member-suggested sessions and we hosted more panels and interactive sessions than ever before.

Based on the response we’ve received so far, it worked. Our members shared, opined and delivered content that led to more networking, camaraderie and deeper discussions – the hallmarks of any good meeting.  We appreciate you taking a chance and trying something new.  We’re also listening to tweaks you suggested so we may perfect our speaker sessions in Orlando in 2019.

More “new” will be on the way. We talked to many members during the conference and collected important feedback about how we can improve and expand our future APMP services, particularly around our certifications. Anticipate information about new, innovative ways to become APMP certified in the coming months.  We are excited about  APMP certification in the future and hope you will be too!  2019 will be a huge year for certification.

Speaking of certifications, a heartfelt congratulation to those who passed their exams on Certification Day. An amazing 128 individuals earned APMP certifications at the Foundation, Practitioner and Professional levels. We are very proud of you all for taking the next step in your careers and committing to APMP best practices.

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Center stage was jam packed with Certification Day graduates celebrating their next step on their professional development path

One of the graduates included Tracie Bretecher of Long View in Canada. She became the first ever  Canadian to earn an APMP Professional certification  – a new milestone for APMP and its Maple Leaf Chapter.   Congratulations Tracie for being a pioneer and a bid and proposal role model.

During the conference, our board also approved a certification scholarship to honor our own Charlie Divine, APMP’s recently retired director of certification. Starting next year, we are launching a program where each chapter will be invited to nominate one member to receive a complimentary scholarship toward any level of certification through the newly established Charlie Divine APMP Certification Scholarship program.

Charlie will work with the board of directors to establish a set of criteria and will award the first scholarships next year in Orlando. We’re excited to see his legacy endure in a way that also advances our members’ careers and contributes to their professional development — something Charlie championed in his 40 plus years in our industry.  Details will be sent this fall alerting our chapters how their members can qualify for the annual Charlie Divine APMP Certification Scholarship program.

We also launched winningthebusiness.com, which is our “re-imagination” of the APMP Journal. It’s a new website dedicated to the bid and proposal profession, with news and feature stories to help you with the work you do daily. We’ll update the site often, so check it out. And if you grabbed a mug at Bid & Proposal Con, don’t forget to email your winningthebusiness.com “mugshot” to Rick Harris for a chance to win cool prizes.

Finally, a well-deserved thank-you to the staff and volunteers who produced such a tremendous, professional event. While members were taking exams and engaged in sessions, there was a lot going on behind the scenes to support the content, provide opportunities for networking, and create a friendly atmosphere. Well done.

And, fair warning: This year’s conference sold out six weeks in advance, as did the hotel and the exhibit floor. So be on the lookout for 2019 information soon. You’ll want to make reservations for Orlando fast!

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Everyone who was anyone walked the red carpet to attend APMP’s Hollywood Industry Celebration. It was a who’s who of bid and proposal superstars at APMP’s Best Night of Networking

Let Us Count The Ways APMP Is Moving Your Profession Forward

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Last month, we recognized APMP’s 29th anniversary. Following the anniversary, some members asked how APMP has advanced the profession over the last 29 years. Two numbers tell that story best; those are 10,501 and 8,195.

Certified professionals

Let’s start with the big number: 10,501. That’s the number of certifications APMP has awarded over the past 14 years. APMP certifications sets standards for the profession and advances the earning potential for members. In fact, according to our member and certification surveys, APMP members who achieve our Foundation certification earn 15% more than members who don’t.

By establishing industry-approved APMP best practices, a Body of Knowledge, and a pathway for career progression through advanced certifications, APMP has helped elevate the profession and the earning potential for its members. Today, there’s no question that people who win work for their organizations are recognized for the critical role in the business winning success of the organization.

Thirty years ago, that didn’t exist. Instead, bid and proposal positions were often seen as clerical or administrative or not even recognized at all – and they were compensated as such.

Our Foundation-level certification has become an industry standard, raising the profile of bid and proposal professionals as they enter the industry. For professionals who have been practicing in the field for some time, we help them demonstrate and measure advanced skills to their employers.

APMP’s entry-level certification has become the standard within the industry, so much that it’s commonly included in job requirements, particularly in Europe. And we are starting to see our Practitioner certification required in job postings too. Globally, companies are saying that APMP certification is not only important, but necessary, and they want to hire professionals who have invested in their careers through tested certifications.

Our certifications have improved the way businesses view and compensate bid and proposal professionals. We’re happy to see our members get the credit, compensation, professional development, and career progression they deserve – because that is our job to help move them forward in their profession.

Votes of confidence

The next number: 8,195. We currently have 8,195 members. The organization is growing at a fantastic rate – we’ve increased our membership by nearly 147% since 2011.

We consider each membership as a vote of confidence that APMP is providing real value to its members. People have a lot of demands – and a lot of choices – when it comes to their time, talents, and financial resources. The fact that so many professionals are joining APMP  and staying with us speaks to the quality and value of our programming.

We can’t be everything to everyone. But we know we couldn’t achieve this tremendous growth without members endorsing APMP with their hard-earned membership Dollars, Pounds, Euros, Rupees, Marks and Yen.  Individuals leverage their APMP memberships differently, but there’s something of value for every member, at every stage of their career.  We know this because we keep growing.

Thanks to APMP and its members, this industry has stepped from the shadows, declared and proven itself as a business development force. Our members are valued and respected; they have a seat at the table and make meaningful contributions to their organizations.  This transformation started with the first APMP meeting 29 years ago and is thriving today.

Two numbers help explain how APMP has advanced the profession: our certifications and our membership. But our greatest achievement is that we’ve helped our members earn more money by supporting their personal and professional development paths. If that is all we are ever known for, we would be happy.

Even More 

Not only are we moving  the industry forward now, but APMP has an eye on our future.  We’re advancing the professionalism in our industry by recognizing those who will lead it in future.  Be sure to see our 40 Under 40 winners for 2018.  They are our very future.

Share Your Story

Please share how APMP has supported your professional development. If you have a story about how certification or any of our programs have helped move your career forward, please let me know.

Happy Birthday to Us! We’re 29 Years Young This Month

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APMP turned 29 years old this month. Thinking back to what 29 felt like for me, we think APMP is right on track.  We’ve learned and matured a lot over the years, but still have important and exciting work ahead. At this age, we have a better sense of who we are and who want to become in this maturing industry.

As is tradition on birthdays and anniversaries, let’s take a quick look back in time to appreciate how far we’ve come:

  • A robust staff. When we began in 1989, the heavy lifting of planning and producing our programs was done by member volunteers. Back then, we had one full-time staff, one part-time staff and a boatload of volunteers doing the work of the association. Today, we have six full-time staff who carry that load, taking inspiration from members’ ideas through their committee work and bring them to fruition. With this dedicated and talented team, we can dream bigger and reach for higher goals.
  • Fiscally stable and well-funded. In the beginning, we operated on a tiny budget. All new associations do because you must start somewhere. Today, thanks to a growing membership and the success of our conferences and programming, we are a well-funded organization. We are fiscally stable and utilize our money to fund initiatives like international expansion and technology infrastructure to support our members. Most importantly, we can provide additional member resources. Today’s APMP is also completely fiscally transparent. Any member is welcome to see how APMP International raises and invests the association’s money at any time. We welcome and answer all questions about how much funding we have and where it goes through our Annual Reports and from direct questions from our members.
  • A wide range of speakers and volunteers. As a smaller and younger organization, it was common to see repeat speakers, volunteers, and leaders throughout the year. We are grateful to our members who raised their hands to help, sometimes early and often. Today, we have hundreds of members who fill our volunteer and leadership roles. Likewise, the number of volunteer opportunities has expanded. Any member who is interested in helping, speaking, or serving on a committee or the board can get involved, either at their local chapter level or through APMP International. There is room for everybody, and we are a better association because of every one of you.
  • Year-round programming and highly successful conferences. We can hardly believe the growth of our conferences and programming. In the early days, APMP produced a single conference, plus a newsletter and a journal. Our 2018 Bid & Proposal conference will be nearly twice the size of our early events. We also offer year-round education, programs and networking opportunities; send a weekly newsletter both to our US and European members; and publish an award-winning journal. With technology that didn’t exist 29 years ago, we can connect 1,000 professionals in the industry through a webinar any day of the week. Our ability to create and deliver content is deeper, richer and faster than ever before.
  • A growing geographic footprint. Our geographic footprint looks like one of those cell phone coverage maps you see on commercials. Today, we have 26 chapters around the world—with more in the works.

“More.” We think that sums it up. Today, APMP has more members, staff, funding, programming—you name it—than we did 29 years ago. Most importantly, we hope what you get from APMP today is more valuable than it ever has been.

And if it’s not—or if you have questions about how we operate today—please ask. We are not the 1989, 1999, or 2009 version of APMP. Our culture is different today because we are continually evolving, growing and changing with the times.

We’re not the same association we were 29 years ago, 19 years ago or even 9 years ago, and we shouldn’t be.  We’re maturing in the best possible way.

We’re glad that you’re growing with us, too, and gaining the professional development experiences you need. If you have any questions about APMP, you can drop me a line any time.

Registration Red Alert: Bid & Proposal Con Quickly Heading Toward Fastest Ever Sell-Out

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If you plan to join us in sunny San Diego for APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con this May, act fast.

The annual conference is already 43 percent booked – and registration has only been open for three weeks.  We have never seen registration fill this quickly and we want our members to know.  Whether you are attendees, speakers, exhibitors or sponsors, know that we are on pace for an imminent sell-out and maybe the quickest in Bid & Proposal Con history.

We appreciate the support of our chapter leaders and sponsors who have encouraged early registrations. We are producing this outstanding event in conjunction with the APMP California Chapter and based on our current count, there’s no doubt that we’ll sell-out the 2018 event.  The early registration numbers are so compelling (53 percent ahead of where we were last year) that we think this could be a ridiculously fast sell-out. Unfortunately, once we reach capacity, we cannot add any more attendees.

So, if you’re considering attending the conference, register today. If you need any convincing, here are some reasons to join us:

  • APMP’s Bid and Proposal Con is the best place to build your professional network. It’s the only conference dedicated to the profession and it’s the largest gathering of bid, tender, capture, business development and graphics professionals in the world.
  • Our members drive the content. New this year, the material being presented was determined by the membership. You wrote the script.
  • Certification workshops and exams are offered in conjunction with the conference, so you can achieve or prepare for professional certification during your trip.
  • We have excellent, first rate, sponsors and exhibitors that can connect you to products and services that are extremely relevant to the profession and which can transform your proposal function. Our show floor will be sold-out.
  • It’s fun. Our sessions are educational and inspiring, plus we make plenty of time for socializing. We know networking is important, too.

We’re thrilled with the number of registrations and the pace is a little scary too.  Please take my advice and register as soon as possible register today to guarantee your place at the enormously popular APMP Bid & Proposal Con

We couldn’t do APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con without the generous financial support, energy and commitment of our sponsors.  Make sure that you say hello to these great people at the conference once you have booked. The 2018 Bid & Proposal Con Sponsors are:

Lohfeld Consulting Group, Shipley Associates, Upland Qvidian, EMD Strategies, Hinz Consulting, RFPIO, 24 Hour Company, AOC Key Solutions (KSI), Qorus Software, Business Development Institute International, CV Partner, Expedience Software, Intravation Inc., Lisa Rehurek, PleaseTech (Ideagen), Privia LLC, Proposal Development Consultants, R3 Business Solutions, SalesEdge, Strategic Proposals, VisibleThread, Vertosoft/Workiva, and Xait.

They have already booked, and we hope you do too — and soon.  At this record-setting registration pace, we will sell all conference seats and most likely in record time.  Please don’t delay.

People of APMP 9 and 10: Lucky Seven

We try to not insert APMP staff into the People of APMP profiles – but for this story, we’ll make an exception.

This week is my lucky seven-year anniversary at APMP and these two ladies are largely responsible for that.   They are two of four people who interviewed me for the job and later hired me.

Attachment-1Betsy Blakney of CACI (left) and Kirste Webb of Information International Associates (right) were on the APMP search committee looking for a replacement Executive Director when David Winton retired after 22 years with APMP.  They were joined by David Bol of Shipley and Jessica Morgenstern of Leidos (neither pictured).   I recently bumped into Betsy and Kirste at a National Capital area event and asked to take a picture with them.

Betsy Blakney, has been the Volunteer Chair of APMP once before, and besides being one of the deepest and resource-rich proposal professionals that I know, also has another side.  She is an enthusiast of the Little Free Library Exchanges.  Betsy and her husband, Bob, built one outside their Northern Virginia home a few years ago and were amazed, right from the start, how many books come and go out of that library every week.  Betsy will be very happy to know that we included a link on how to start your own Little Free Library Exchange.

Most people might not know this, but from an APMP perspective, Betsy has moved our certification program ahead in significant ways. Most notably, Betsy is co-author with Charlie Divine, on APMP’s Glossary of Terms – the one publication that every bid, proposal, capture and BD professional should own.   It features APMP universally accepted terms with alternate terms for our industry and is available in the APMP store for only $25 USD.  It is the true underpinning for APMP’s Foundation Study Guide and certification exam questions.

Kirste Webb has twice been the volunteer Chair of APMP and has guided the association through growth big and small.  What you may not know about Kirste is that she is also a cigar enthusiast.  Don’t believe me?  Then take yourself right to the Smokin’ Ladies Cigar Club to see for yourself.  Kirste travels a lot in her job and has a cigar shop to visit in almost every port.

Kirste was also instrumental in APMP’s certification program by pushing for an APMP Body of Knowledge (BoK).  This was a high priority of hers during the new APMP Executive Director search.  Five years later, we rolled out the most complete version ever of an APMP BoK and helped Kirste fulfill a dream of having a single association-endorsed resource of best practice.  That’s the APMP BoK and Kirste was the leader of this effort.

Even though their legacies at APMP are indelibly stamped into our history, I’ll always thank them for bringing me into this great association.  Thanks to all of them, I can look back at seven incredible years of growth, change and one of the most rewarding professional experiences that I have ever known.  My introduction to APMP was through Kirste, David and Jessica.   My first year of APMP service was through Betsy.

Because of all that and them I have one the greatest jobs in the association industry, have professional friends all over the world and have the space and the confidence from our Board leaders to grow forward!  We wanted to be the industry’s professional development leader and we are.

Thank you for the help, guidance and leadership to get me to lucky seven!

 

10K Members by 2020

Goals are more attainable once shared. So we’re going to put this one out there: APMP’s goal is to grow to 10,000 members by 2020.

Today, we have about 7,800 members. The way associations are typically categorized, that puts us in the “small association” range. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished as a small organization, but recognize, pragmatically, that larger organizations have more doors opened to them. Having 10,000 people (or more) behind our mission will elevate our status among policymakers, employers, and other platforms where we advocate for members.

In other words, our voice becomes stronger as our association gets larger.

When APMP started 29-some years ago, BD and capture roles weren’t widely recognized by employers as standalone or serious roles. By banding together, we’ve shown that they are. We have demonstrated our value and set high standards for professionalism: best practices, ethical standards, and our Body of Knowledge.

It takes people to do that. Dedicated, active members. And, with greater mindshare, we can produce better materials, more networking, and numerous other benefits for our members. There are simply more opportunities – for members and for the association’s future – if we mature into a larger organization.

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Here’s how we plan to get to 10K:

Corporate Memberships
It’s more efficient and prudent for APMP staff to focus on membership opportunities that result in dozens of members in one fell swoop vs. chasing hundreds of individual prospective members. That’s why corporate memberships are so important. Our corporate membership packages allow us to tailor APMP’s benefits to the needs of a particular team or company – and create a win-win situation for everyone.

We currently have 99 corporate members, and we will focus on increasing enterprise-wide memberships in the coming years. Christina Lewellen and Tony Round are spearheading corporate membership efforts in the U.S. and in Europe, respectively. If you have ideas about how to increase corporate memberships or you’d like to learn more, reach out to them.

There are 29 APMP chapters throughout the world, and we will encourage every chapter Board to recruit 3 new corporate members over the next year.  Their commitment will significantly contribute to the 10K.

Certification

For years, certification has been a strong driver of membership. Our three tiers of certification help us connect with professionals as they enter the field and progress throughout their career. Now, we’re looking to certify individual skillsets that are gained along the way.

These new certification opportunities will help members achieve ongoing professional development, which will help advance their careers and the profession.

In addition, some of the specialty certifications we plan to develop over the next 12 to 15 months may attract professionals who work in tertiary fields to ours. Persuasive writing and executive decision-making, as two examples, would benefit folks who aren’t typically exposed to APMP.

Again, these opportunities will bring new members into APMP and contribute to our goal of reaching 10K members.

Retention

APMP currently retains about 70 percent of its membership every year. This is on-point with the national average for professional associations of our size, but we think we can do better. Some of the steps to improve retention will be simple – like consistently reminding members of their renewal dates. Other efforts, like helping members maintain their CEU credits to keep certification, will be more difficult. Over the next several years, we will build the infrastructure needed to rigorously track CEU completion, which will help our retention and membership numbers significantly and contribute to the 10K.

Chapter Support

Most importantly, we’re going to get there together. Our chapters have excellent ideas for increasing membership in their regions. As we’ve grown in Europe, it’s been exciting to hear fresh ideas from these rising chapters. Julia Duke, our chapter coordinator, can connect chapters – both seasoned and new – to resources and ideas to help chapters recruit new members.

If you read my last post, you know that APMP has been building momentum toward this goal over the last year. With your support, I believe we’ll hit 2020 right on target.

Happy New Year…And A Look Back on 2017

SparklerAs we kick-off the New Year, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate everything that we achieved together in 2017. To sum it up, it was a year of astonishing growth. Which is perfect, actually, because it’s why we exist: to promote professional development, to advance the profession, and to help our members win more business. To grow.

In that light, last year was incredible for APMP. Among our many accomplishments, here are some of the “greatest hits” from 2017:

APMP Certification

Certifications continue to grow, with the highest gains coming from our Foundation Level certification. The Foundation Level, which serves folks who are newer to the career field, jumped by 17% over the prior year. Since we started offering it in 2004, more than 8,435 people worldwide have earned this credential. It’s recognized as the global standard for bid and proposal professionals, and has become a “must-have” certification within the industry. In 2017, APMP so far issued a total of 1,201 certifications between Foundation, Practitioner and Professional.

International Expansion

We changed the geographic footprint of APMP this year, which was a major milestone in our efforts to serve a global audience. Guided by APMP’s International Board of Directors and the three-year plan that they set forth, we opened a new, independent company in Europe called the APMP United Kingdom Development CIC. This extension of APMP will help us better serve our UK members. Specifically, it will ensure that money raised in the U.K. – through memberships and other purchases – stays locally to serve our members in the U.K.

We also added a full-time staff member in London, Tony Round, to help increase our corporate memberships and sponsorships throughout Europe. In 2018, we will add a similar position to support our growth in India.

And, we launched the European Reporter, a weekly newsletter to help members stay apprised of industry news for our European members

APMP Bid & Proposal Con

In June 2017, we held our biggest APMP Bid & Proposal Con yet, maintaining our position as the world’s largest event dedicated to proposal, bid, capture and business development professionals. Nearly 950 colleagues from around the globe met us in New Orleans, LA USA to network and sharpen their skillsets, and 90 people took a certification exam during the three-day event. (The Mardi Gras King Cake popcorn was interesting, too.)

If you haven’t done so, save the date for our 2018 event: May 15-18 in San Diego.) We’re piloting a new, more member-focused approach to delivering content that should yield new and interesting educational opportunities.

Corporate Memberships

In 2011, we had 19 corporate members. Today, we have 99. That’s fantastic news for members who want to share the resources and benefits of APMP with a larger team. Because every corporate membership is unique, our Board, members and business development staff have worked very hard to create corporate packages that promote professional advancement and are good investments for their employers. When more people have access to education, tools and best practices, everybody wins.

In keeping with our commitment to openness, additional details about these achievements – figures, financials, and more – will be included in our Annual Report. It will be emailed to members in February and posted on our website.

I must close by saying “Thank you.” These wins are largely attributable to our members, particularly those who serve on the Board. They dedicated their time and talents to create an inspired long-range plan for APMP. It’s been a pleasure to carry out your vision, and we look forward to what’s ahead.

Happy New Year.