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When it comes to professional development, there are many resources at your disposal. Professional organizations such as APMP provide excellent resources—from certifications to webinars and the annual Bid & Proposal Con. All these opportunities grow our knowledge base and provide new skills.
While gaining knowledge through these resources can improve your skills, you can significantly enhance what you’re learning by working with a more experienced professional, someone who can provide nuanced insights that come only with experience. An even greater bonus is if this person is one of APMP’s certified professionals, as they can provide you with insight into those above-mentioned offerings they believe would be beneficial to you. They can also connect you to a larger community of business development and proposal professionals, both regionally and nationally.
There is great value in finding and maintaining a mentoring relationship with an experienced proposal and/or business development professional. This individual can not only guide you as you grow your own skills but also provide insight into the profession and enhance your career growth. Being able to reach out to someone who’s been there before can provide a lifeline during a particularly difficult proposal or professional rough patch.
Being able to reach out to someone who’s been there before can provide a lifeline during a particularly difficult proposal or professional rough patch.
How Do You Want to Grow?
First, how would you answer the following questions?
- What intrigues you about your current profession?
- What would you like to learn about your current role/profession or industry?
- What are your professional goals?
Mentors can help you explore these questions by providing their experiences with varying roles in your industry and by sharing how they’ve chartered their own career path. Your current answers to these questions can also determine the kind of mentor you need and how you want to grow through that relationship.
If you’re new to proposal development, for example, look for a professional who has experience in every aspect of the proposal development process. If you’re a seasoned proposal professional but understand little about the business development side, look for someone with extensive experience in business development who can provide you with greater insight.
Support Where You Are
We all have experienced times, personally and professionally, when we simply were unsure of what to do. We may feel as if we have exhausted our existing resources and can’t identify the best next step. Or we’ve encountered a new concept or strategy and need advice regarding the best approach to our current challenge. Having mentors can provide an excellent resource to reach out to when challenges arise. They can truly provide the advice and guidance you need.
Mentors can also provide a second opinion and a third-person perspective, which can move you out of a narrow frame of mind. Having an outside perspective can be invaluable, allowing you to share ideas and gain a level of insight that, at this point in your career or experience level, you have not yet attained.
Leah Baxley is a business development and proposal analyst at Vana Solutions LLC, a Beavercreek, Ohio-based IT solutions and product company.