Thursday, March 01, 2007

A New Business Experience

Presentation jittersThis morning I drove up to Concordia University, Ann Arbor, to meet with representatives from the Haab School of Business and Management. About two weeks ago, I received a request for proposals from them to update their web presence. Now, I've become a bit leery of RFPs in my professional life. Every time I have responded to one, I put in a lot of work coming up with ideas to meet the prospects needs. Then, shortly after the decision deadline I would receive my "thank you for submitting your proposal..." rejection letter. As a one-man band, spending that time didn't seem to have a very good return on investment.

This time I tried a slightly different method. Instead of just reading the RFP and creating a response, I actually called up the contact, Professor Jon Luker, and chatted with him (even though the RFP pretty much said not to call). I found out a lot more about their needs and the background behind the project that I ever would have through their written description or even what I would have learned via an email exchange. According to Professor Luker, I was the only one to have called to talk with him.

I submitted my proposal around 3pm on February 27th. By shortly after noon on the 28th I received an email from Professor Luker letting me know that I was one of three finalists. So, today I met with the committee to answer whatever questions they might have. Even if I don't get the job, it was a good meeting. I've not had any experience with the second tier of the RFP process. This was an excellent opportunity to learn and develop my skills, so the next time I jump into the fray, I will know better how to deal with the situation.

I'll keep you apprised as the situation unfolds. Given the tight timeline on this project, I expect that I will hear by tonight or early tomorrow whether I got the job or not. I am expecting not. I know one of the other three vendors to whom they were speaking and they are much better suited to this project than I am, no false modesty implied.

Hey, even if I lose out, at least I'm getting a higher quality of rejection. ;-)

So, what new business experiences have you had lately?

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