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Apra Prospect Development 2017 Recap

Mon, August 28, 2017 1:11 PM | Laura Parshall

NEDRA Board member Lisa Foster attended Apra's Prospect Development conference in July. In this month's article, she shares her experiences there for those of us who weren't able to make it.

Apra Prospect Development 2017 Recap

by Lisa Foster

Apra’s Prospect Development Conference, held July 26-29 in Anaheim, drew just under 1,000 registrants. 827 were full conference attendees and the rest were made up of exhibitors, speakers, or symposia attendees. The conference featured 87 sessions in total, including 10 workshops, 75 breakouts and 2 general sessions. Attendees came from 9 different countries, including Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the US. Of those who answered the post conference survey, 72% were chapter members and the remaining 35% were first time attendees. The top-rated session was the keynote speaker and the top-rated networking events were Apra Talks and the 30th Anniversary Celebration. The top education sessions were the ones that had a focus on real-life applications, as well as sessions focused on relationship building skills. 

For me, the conference began with the Apra Chapter Leaders’ meeting. Dina Zelleke (Former NEDRA Board Member and Ann Castle Award recipient) is the incoming Chair of the Chapter Leader’s Committee. NEDRA President Amy Begg and I attended the meeting on NEDRA’s behalf. This was my fourth Apra Chapter Leaders’ meeting, and each one has been totally different. For this meeting, Apra solicited feedback in advance about challenges faced by the chapters. We met as a large group and brainstormed specific challenges that fell into the large categories Apra provided, such as Member and Volunteer Recruitment, Value Proposition and Member Retention, and Serving Diverse Geographies of Membership, for example. Next, we broke into groups and rotated around the room to discuss ideas for overcoming each of these challenges. There was a particular challenge assigned to each table.  This was a terrific way to gather new ideas and best practices from other chapters. Most chapters were careful to split themselves up so that each chapter had only one representative at a table, which really helped ensure diverse approaches. Apra is referring to this meeting as a “Solutions Showcase,” and that name is truly apt. Amy and I have shared our experience with the rest of the NEDRA Board and we hope we can use some of the ideas we brought back to better serve our NEDRA members.

We also heard about some changes to the Apra website, especially in the area of the Body of Knowledge. The Body of Knowledge now features self-assessments. This allows you to test yourself in various areas and see if you have knowledge gaps. The meeting ended with each chapter tasked with creating a poster for their chapter to remain on display throughout the conference. Amy and I were very grateful for the wonderful photos taken by our volunteer conference photographers. Here is a photo of the poster we created, and a photo of the chapter leaders.


An interesting note is that one of the chapter leaders is named Nedra! She pronounces it with a long "e." It was fun to meet her.

I did take advantage of the Pre-Conference Workshops, and attended two terrific sessions before the official start of the conference. One of my favorite takeaways from this year’s conference actually came in my first pre-conference session. The presenter mentioned trying to make a shift to getting through a list of names to review and rate more quickly and that her team had found the use of physical hourglasses to be helpful. I found some pretty hourglasses online and got them for my team. Certainly, we all have access to digital timers but somehow an hourglass is more fun and is a nice visual reminder that time is running out!

Apra took an interesting approach to the scheduling this year, and repeated some of the session offerings. For me, personally, this was helpful as there were times when I was interested in two sessions being offered at the same time and it enabled me to catch one of them at another time in the schedule. In addition to being Apra’s 30th Anniversary, it is also the 30th Anniversary of the movie “The Princess Bride,” and many sessions had fun incorporating visuals and quotes from the movie into their presentations. One of the vendors had made up buttons with various “Princess Bride” quotes and it was interesting to see what quotes people chose to wear!  Speaking of vendors, there were a few new vendors this year, and we did speak with them to see if they would be interested in coming to the NEDRA conference this Spring so that our members can stay up to date with all the latest products.


The keynote speaker was fabulous. If you hadn’t read about him, and especially if you’ve ever wondered what happens to all the partially used bars of soap at hotels, I encourage you to check out the Apra website and read about Derreck Kayongo. Not only is his mission laudable, but his passion and enthusiasm were absolutely contagious. He literally had the whole room on their feet, dancing and singing at the end of his talk.


The Apra 30th Celebration featured 80’s music, along with a fun photo booth with 80’s props.


The Apra Talks were very interesting and featured a look at Apra Past, Present and Future. For discussion of the future, Tarak Shah talked about such things as Discovery Engines and Machine Comprehending. 

Also of special note, Helen Brown, former NEDRA Board Member and past Ann Castle Award Winner, was the recipient of the 2017 Apra Distinguished Service Award.

NEDRA had a very nice networking reception with a terrific turnout. We even had some folks drop by who were former NEDRA members who had moved out of New England for a job change and some folks who were just interested to meet NEDRA members because they follow NEDRA on social media. The NEDRA brand is strong!


We all attend conferences with the hope of gaining knowledge in different areas. I was especially interested in sessions that offered examples of reports and data visualization, and I found that there were plenty of those. I came back to my office with great examples of reports for prospect management and metrics.


Next year’s conference will be held in Pittsburgh, PA August 8-11, 2018.


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