My last blog stimulated a robust conversation about the value of membership organizations.
Numerous consultants talked about a platform for sharing and expanding cutting edge ideas to improve member’s capabilities – essentially a learning laboratory that had direct relevance to a consultant’s competency and competitiveness in the marketplace.
In addition to education, consultants repeatedly talked about getting business and connecting to clients - but didn’t offer details about how to make this connection happen. Our own members are often puzzled about how a membership organization and certifying body actually helps them "get business.”
Here’s how this calculus works in IMC USA – it’s worked for me and I’m confident that it will work for you.
The strength of our membership is our diversity. We have general management consultants, advisors and coaches as well as subject matter experts – defined by their practice, market-segment and/or industry focus. We have solo practitioners as well as consultants in boutique, small, mid-sized, national and global consulting firms. We have members who are studying at a university, exploring consulting as a career, getting established, expanding their practice, highly experienced and semi- or fully retired from consulting.
The challenge of serving our membership is our diversity. Consultants at different stages of their career have different needs – education in consulting skills, leveraging technology, ethics, practice management and areas of practice, collegial relationships and mentoring, business growth and new clients, repositioning and succession, service to the profession, the community and pro bono opportunities.
Consultants in different practice areas speak different languages. Consultants in different market segments adapt to the different priorities of their clients. And it goes without saying that the diversity of the subject matter expertise in our membership creates a huge challenge for our organization to simply connect to the breadth of the client community.
So how does a membership organization and certifying body such as ours help our members "get business?”
Our incredible diversity means that we can’t define your unique selling proposition, we can’t prospect for business for you, we can’t build relationships of trust with your prospects and we can’t market and sell for you.
But we can help you understand the mindset of prospects and clients, the professionalism and ethics of consulting and teach you skills to communicate, connect and deliver on engagements.IMC USA offers opportunities to learn in our Academy, connects you with top-notch, senior colleagues to create meaningful relationships and test-drive your message with your peers in our chapters, national committees and our virtual community event, C2M Live!, sets the standard of excellence and ethics in the consulting profession and provides mentoring to become certified, giving the client a tangible assurance of competency.
So what's required? An investment, of course – there’s never "something for nothing.” You'll need to put up some cash, of course, but the bulk of the investment is sweat equity – getting connected, making the commitment and getting involved. The analogy to a health club membership could not be more appropriate!
So the next time that someone asks – how does a membership organization and certifying body help its members get business? Tell them – it’s a partnership – between the consultant and the organization.
We’re here to help you grow your professionalism and grow your business. Join us!
Loraine Huchler, P.E., CMC®
P. S. If you were one of our members who experienced problems with our Early Bird registration for GROW!? Don’t despair – we want to apologize and offer to extend the Early Bird until August 31; just click here. I will see you at GROW! in October.