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As a BPC first-timer, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I’ve been to so many expos that are wall-to-wall salespeople trying to scan your lanyard and I’ve also had a real hit-or-miss experience with technical conferences where you never quite know if you’re signing up to hear from an inspirational industry leader or someone reusing the same slides they’ve used at every event. But I have to say, from the moment I arrived in Dallas for this year’s BPC, to the late-night red-eye back to the UK, I was both impressed and delighted by the experience.
Being a first-timer at any event can be daunting. APMP made it really easy for me and the other newbies to get acquainted with a welcome session on the evening before BPC officially began. Throughout the conference, people were generous with their time, always willing to help you out and make sure you were getting the most out of every moment.
So, if you’re suffering from some FOMO from BPC Dallas, and are considering joining us in Orlando in 2023, I’ve put together some top tips on how to get the most out of your next visit to BPC!
(1) Set clear objectives for your conference visit.
I attended BPC with three specific objectives. I wanted to meet vendors who can help us grow our North American businesses faster, I wanted to meet US bid professionals to get a feel for the market capacity, competency, & areas of specialism, and I wanted to benefit from peer-to-peer learning through the conference’s educational sessions. This formed my business case for attending and gave me a focus for the event. Having a focused reason for attending meant that I could be more purposeful with my interactions, discussions, and time.
(2) Keep your schedule flexible.
APMP encourages you to download the agenda and sign-up as an attendee for speaker slots. This is a great way of getting some structure to your day. However, things change day to day. You may meet someone you want to spend more time with over a coffee or get an invite to a fringe event such as a dinner or lunch that you hadn’t planned for. Making sure you have some flex in your diary allows you to make the most of the opportunities presented to you at the conference and avoids you feeling overwhelmed.
(3) Don’t be afraid to chat with vendors.
No one likes pushy salespeople but APMP vendors recognize that. The Vendors at BPC were much more interested in sharing their experiences than trying to sell you a product. I gained some really valuable insight from some of the professionals on the stands so I’d encourage everyone to do at least two rounds of the vendor area at BPC. Plus, you can pick up all sorts of goodies along the way (I’m wearing my new Loopio socks as I write this article!).
(4) Connect with your local chapter.
Post-pandemic, conferences are a great way to reconnect with other APMP professionals in person. Most chapters will have a meet-up of some sort and it’s something I’d thoroughly recommend people try to join. Building local relationships with those who live in your region gives you more opportunity to connect in person outside of the conference, helping you build a strong support network in your area for when times get tough on that ‘strategic’ bid that sales have to win.
(5) Schedule time on your return to follow up and report back.
There’s no point in going to BPC and then going straight back into the day job. Make sure you’ve got time in your diary to write up your notes, share experiences with colleagues and connect with all those you met whilst at BPC. Not only does this help you keep up the new relationships you’ve just formed, but reporting back into the business helps you to reinforce why the investment in you attending BPC was worth it. And, hopefully, that means you’ll be coming back year on year and be a BPC veteran in no time!
Mike is COO of APMP UK, Director of Work Winning at Mace and co-host of the Red Review Podcast. He leads a specialist team at Mace who work across all continents pursuing mega built environment and infrastructure projects. In his spare time he also works as a collaborative working mentor for Constructing Excellence, an advisor and contributor to British Expertise International and an independent member at Newham Council. He was awarded APMP global 40 under 40 recognition in 2020 and loves cold water swimming, politics and good food.