Personal development was an important part of my employment. Training plans, annual appraisals and performance targets were mandatory, generally with a financial bonus attached. Continued Professional Development (CPD) was a must if you wanted to progress. The company paid for training and authorised time off to attend courses and travel to technical evenings.
Things changed when I went freelance. If I’m not working, there is no money coming in. I spent the first three years of freelancing terrified there wouldn’t be work the next week, month, year. When I wasn’t working, I was being a Mum. No time for training or CPD. Then reality struck. How could I sell myself as an effective writer/manager when I didn’t invest in my own professional development?
I decided to take the leap and signed up for an APMP Foundation two-day course, having not fully grasped who or what the APMP was. I was worried that the bid I was working on would have an extension and I wouldn’t be able to stop working for those few days. I was also concerned I wasn’t earning anything and, on top of that, had to shell out course fees, APMP membership, train tickets and ludicrously expensive accommodation in the Big Smoke!
Best. Decision. Ever.
Why? I met people from outside of my small circle and found that there are other individuals who do what I do. I found out there are hundreds of bidding professionals across all sectors, the UK and the world that I can learn from. I discovered a vast amount of resources out there to support learning and development in the bidding profession.
Crucially, I improved my offering to my clients through updating my knowledge and focussing attention on improving my own skills. And this improvement guarantees that the bids I am involved with are not only compliant, but provide that extra bit of wow factor – winning my clients the work they want.
Since taking that first step in 2015, I have completed Foundation and Practitioner certification. I have become an active member of the APMP, speaking at two conferences, mentoring other Practitioners and hopefully inspiring other freelancers and bidding professionals. I have satisfied myself I am doing the right thing; the investment of time and effort improves what I offer to my clients.
In 2018, I am looking to continue my journey with Professional APMP certification. As always, this will require a level of commitment to really do it justice. I am fully booked with work up until October, so not sure how I will fit it in. The trick is to get started, and the rest will slot into place.
My advice for fellow freelancers?
Invest the time.
Invest the money.
Invest in yourself.
Only then can you truly offer your clients a rounded, current and professional service.
This article was written by Pippa Birch.