Four Tips to Get the Most Out of Connect 2016

 

Posted By Kaitlyn Myers | Jan 21, 2016

 

In our next guest blog post we will feature Alan Hull. He will highlight his experience from attending Connect for the last three years, share key takeaways from his experience and showcase valuable content to help attendees prepare for Connect 2016. As you get your bags packed for Nashville be sure to include Alan's helpful tips!!

This spring, Qvidian's annual conference, Connect conference will be in Nashville, TN. I’ll be attending for the third consecutive year and serving as a speaker for the second time. I guess that qualifies me as a “veteran” of the event, which sounds strange to me. When I was approached about writing this blog though, the one thing I felt confident about was that I know a great deal more about how to get the most from the experience of attending a customer conference than I did two years ago.

Briefly, for those reading that may be attending for the first time this year, you should know that my first conference experience was in 2014 and consisted of me attending alone, not knowing a single person at the event other than my Account Manager and barely knowing anything about how to make Qvidian work for my team. If that sounds similar to the circumstance you’re facing heading into your first Connect experience, then please trust me when I tell you you will be far from the only person in that situation at the event.


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Honestly though, whether you’re a first-time attendee or you’ve been to the event any number of times in the past, I think the following tips can help maximize the value you take away from the experience:

#1 Know your objectives and your pain points

This might seem obvious, but it’s not as intuitive as you may think. Of course it makes sense to come to the event having a few questions to pose to Qvidian’s product experts, and you should, they’re awesome (seriously…they’re the most supportive product team I’ve ever seen), but don’t limit yourself to just learning more about Qvidian’s proposal software. You’re going to be surrounded by literally hundreds of people who do the same kind of work you do. It’s really incredible how much people at Connect have in common professionally.

Before coming to the event, take time to write down what your company’s overall objectives are (not just Qvidian related) and your most frequent challenges as it relates to proposals, presentation and RFP responses. You’ll likely run into someone who can offer you some suggestions. One of my biggest takeaways from Connect 2015 was a process improvement for my team that had nothing to do with Qvidian.

#2 Keep an eye out for creative ideas

Sometimes some of the coolest things you take away from an event like Connect are things you had never considered before you arrived. During a session last year, a speaker showed me a use for Qvidian I had never really considered before and now my team is working towards developing a new type of new content specifically because we saw how useful it could be and how easy it was with Qvidian. It wasn’t even on our radar until I saw someone else do it at Connect.

#3 Get to know the Qvidian Product Team

I touched on this briefly already, but the Qvidian team deserves another shout out. They really are wonderful. Not only will they solve your technical challenges and answer questions, they’re more than happy to engage in lengthy discussions on what you want Qvidian to do for you and what enhancements you can suggest. Last year, I was even asked to offer input into a potential new product they were developing and wanted some feedback on. As great as Qvidian is as a solution, the one thing I like better about Qvidian is their people.

#4 Network, network, network

When I say network, I don’t necessarily mean just be social (though you should do that, too), but do your best to find people who are in similar positions to you or potentially even a bit further advanced. Take the time to establish a connection you can take with you when the conference is over so you have an ongoing support network throughout the year.

Over the last year, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a chance to reach out for help from at least 5 or 6 different Qvidian users I met at Connect to help me address concerns that I may not have had in the spring of 2015, but popped up somewhere throughout the year. Every single time the person I contacted was happy to suggest ways they could support me in resolving my issue. I’ve also been privileged enough to pay those favors forward on a number of occasions to people who are newer to QPA than I am. Plugging yourself into that kind of reciprocal support network that carries on throughout the year is unquestionably the greatest gift Connect can provide.

There are so many great things to learn at the Connect conference and hundreds of people who have more in common with you than you can imagine. So come ready to take as much away from the experience as you can and hopefully these tips can help you make the most of your time in Nashville.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Alan Hull, Senior Proposal Writer

Alan has worked on Morneau Shepell’s Proposal Team since 2009. His area of specialty is the consulting and administration of pension and benefit plans. Since studying Marketing at the University of Toronto, Alan has amassed over 12 years of experience in proposal writing working for firms across Canada. He also has extensive experience in project management.