What’s so special about BPC Barcelona anyway?

I’m Erin, APMP’s Writer and Editor. I’ll be going to BPC Barcelona for the first time in March and, as excited as I am, I’m also a little nervous.

A few things you should know about me as I start this post:

  • As a writer who works remotely, I spend the majority of my time behind a keyboard in my home office.
  • I’ve never been to Barcelona.
  • I’m kind of scared of planes.
  • I’m brand new to the bid and proposal landscape.
  • I’m that person who Googles the endings of movies because I like to know what I’m in for before I start watching (sacrilege, I know).

All that is to say, catching a flight to a big, bustling conference with no idea what to expect is a bit out of the ordinary for me to say the least. So, in an attempt to blend placating my nerves with my day job, I thought I’d get the insights of some BPC veterans about what BPC Barcelona is all about and report my findings back to you.

If you’re also a bit apprehensive about the prospect of going to Barcelona in March – whether you’ve registered already or are on the fence – hopefully my helpful inside informants can give you the reassurance you need to take the plunge into the world of BPC along with me!

What is BPC?

Despite only joining APMP’s HQ staff a couple of months ago, I’ve already had the opportunity to speak to some of APMP’s wonderful members about what it is about their membership that benefits them.

Amid a myriad of other benefits, nearly every one of them has cited BPCs – both the US and European iterations – as one of the most rewarding and worthwhile experiences of their time in the community so far.

One thing has become increasingly clear to me with every conversation I have: if you’re not attending BPC, you’re only getting part of the APMP story. I’m told it’s essentially a one-stop shop for all the knowledge, skills and connections needed to boost your performance and advance your career.

But what is it that gets people so high on the BPC buzz?

Emma Orr, CP APMP is a Senior Bid Manager who attended BPC for the first time in Amsterdam last year.

Matt Harnett, CP CAP APMP is a consultant whose trip to Barcelona in March will be his third time attending BPC.

Matt and Emma have shared some comments about their experiences at BPC on LinkedIn before, so I thought I’d bug them for some more information and insights about what makes BPC so special and why I should be excited about going.

Three top reasons to go to BPC, according to Matt and Emma

  1. Connecting with the international bid community

“It’s great to be able to engage with fellow bid professionals from around the globe who work in the same field that you do and have a shared understanding of the issues and challenges that we encounter on a daily basis,” Matt told me. “It’s also a relief not having to explain what your job entails to people who aren’t familiar with bidding!”

Emma echoed this, adding: “Many of us have standalone roles, where we don’t receive support or acknowledgement of the skills we utilise daily. There is almost a knowing nod of understanding when you see en masse that we’re all experiencing the same problems. You only experience this when you have a room full of strangers gathered in this way. It is, after all, the APMP community which we know and love!”

That has been a common theme in my other conversations with bid and proposal people, I must say. For such a complex, nuanced role so critical to business winning, not many people outside the bid and proposal orbit seem to know what these vital professionals do. Although the members I’ve bombarded with questions about their roles were so helpful and willing to help me understand, I can imagine how refreshing it must be to connect with people for whom no explanation is necessary.

BPC seems like an all-access pass to a group of people who likely understand every stress, every triumph, and every challenge you’re experiencing right now. How cool is that? Think of it like a support group for all those pent-up work rants that your friends and family just wouldn’t understand.

  1. Top-class content

“[There is a] great range of speakers, not just proposal-based, but covering different areas of productivity, mental health, leadership, and more,” Emma said, when I asked her about the kinds of things you learn at BPC.

She said that the conference gives people “the ability to have time away from [their] ‘desk jobs’ and concentrate on [their] craft”.

“The content is always very relevant, current and engaging,” Matt agreed. “I always come away with plenty of things to think about and a list of actions to pursue and explore within my own role and business.”

This much is clear from the agenda, which you can view here if you haven’t already. The schedule is packed with all sorts of sessions. From best practice advice on leadership, to in-depth tips on how to harness the potential of AI; from managing your wellbeing in a fast-paced industry, to cutting-edge strategies on how to boost your win rates.

As someone who is gearing up to take my Foundation Certification, I’m so looking forward to diving into these sessions and filling up notebooks with enthusiastic notes I’ll struggle to read later. But with all the knowledge in the room, Emma and Matt reassured me I’ll leave understanding more about the industry, my professional development, and my future goals than I do going in.

  1. Making valuable, lasting connections

“I’ve forged numerous new relationships from attending BPC events that have resulted in opportunities for work and progression,” Matt told me.

But if you’re as apprehensive about the prospect of trying to push your business card on a stranger as I am, don’t worry! Emma reassured me that the size of the event – a more intimate gathering than its US counterpart – makes it “easy to network and get to know everyone”.

I’ve heard this about the European BPC events before too. There are a couple of historic posts on our blog about BPCs past – namely this one by Jody Alves and this one by Nina Bauer – and the inclusive and welcoming atmosphere there that provides fertile ground for a new connection to bloom.

Meeting a hundred-odd strangers at a time may still feel a bit daunting, but whether you’re an old hat at networking or a total novice like me, it seems we’ll all fit in well in Barcelona. And if you need a bit of a push to get started, look for a short brunette with glasses wearing APMP merch and I’ll happily chat to you! (My face is also in the image banner at the start of this post in case there’s more than one of us.)

Advice for a BPC newbie

To close out our conversation, I asked Matt and Emma if they had any advice for me and others like me who are taking their first foray into the BPC world.

“Talk to as many people as you can,” Emma said. “Network, learn, attend as many presentations as you can, and absorb the value that is in the room.”

In a similar vein, Matt’s advice is: “Don’t be afraid to engage. Speak to as many people as possible, participate in working groups, ask questions during presentations! You’ll build a valuable network of contacts by doing so, and perhaps even make some new friends.”

What I’m getting from this is that I’ll get out of BPC what I put into it. As long as I’m willing to chat with friendly strangers, ask my burning questions, and learn a thing or two, my experience will be worth every modicum of nerves I’m feeling now. If you’re new to the industry, registration to this event is the best way to hit the ground running in your career – and you can be assured there will be at least one other person in the room who is new to the whole thing too (hello!). If you’ve been in the profession for a while, rubbing shoulders with some of the foremost thought leaders in the industry could be the catalyst for some amazing career growth.

In short, BPC is APMP at its best. I don’t know about you, but I’m about to start counting down the days until 7 March!

What next?

  • Come and have a cuppa and a natter with me in Barcelona in March! All you need to do is register here (and I may take it personally if you don’t).
  • Check out our Convince Your Boss Letter Template if you need a little help convincing your boss to foot the bill.
  • Tell us about what you’re looking forward to about BPC if you’re already planning on coming! I know the more enthusiastic posts I see on my timeline, the more my nerves-to-excitement ratio skews to the latter.

I hope I’ll get the chance to meet you in March!

Have a good day!

Erin x

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