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Consulting in a Down Economy

Posted By Drumm McNaughton FIMC, Monday, March 08, 2010
Good morning!

This blog is brought to you from "rainy" Southern California, specifically Fallbrook, CA. Sitting in my office this morning, I look out over our avocado grove and am feeling fortunate - I don't have to turn on the sprinklers for a while as we've had significant rains this year. As you might know, Southern California has been under drought conditions for a few years, and this year we've exceeded the "usual" rain count by quite a bit. Thank heavens for small favors...

We are in the renewal season for IMC membership, and we are doing well. Not surprisingly, the number one reason for members not renewing has been the economy, and because of that we've offered a number of members "payment plans" to continue their membership which have been accepted. I wish no one had to ask for these, but most people whose crystal balls I believe tell me that in the middle to latter part of the year things will be back to more like normal. This is good news, as it has been a long "drought" for many of our members.

If you are in this boat, i.e., you would like a payment plan so you can continue your membership. please contact Gail McCauley at gail@imcusa or (202) 367-1261.

Which brings me to my topic for today, getting business in down times. For many, this has been a challenging year - I know of many long term members who have been hit particularly hard. But it hasn't been all bad - I have had a large number of members tell me it is their best year in a long time.

What I've come to learn through this is that in down times, we sometimes have to go outside of our sweet spots and reinvent ourselves. That is where I see the power of IMC and our community. Over the years, those of us who have been successful have taken advantages of down times to reinvent ourselves, and to do so we frequently call upon our IMC network to help us think through the details.  Mark Haas and I have that type of relationship - it is more the norm than the exception that we bounce new ideas off of one another for business. This for me is the value of my membership.

Many people tell me that they joined IMC to get more business, but that it didn't work out that way for them.  When they tell me this, I generally ask them what have they done to get known among their peers, and they generally say they come to meetings.  I then ask them would they put their business reputation on the line with their clients by referring business to people they really don't know that well, and they say, "of course not."

Therein lies the conundrum. Most people expect others to refer business to them, but do little to make themselves known and trusted so that they receive referrals.

We all want referrals - Alan Weiss calls them "it is the coin of the realm" - but we don't get ourselves known well enough, i.e., help people see what we are capable of and that we are trustworthy, so that we can get them.  I have made it known that I don't refer business to people unless they are a CMC®, because their holding the CMC® tells me that they are invested in their business and IMC enough to go through the certification process, and that when I refer them to someone they have the results, experience and ethics that I value as a consultant.  Yes, I have to know them, but without the CMC® I don't refer them business.

Bottom line, get involved on a national or chapter level - and through that you will begin to build the relationships necessary to make IMC a referral machine for your business.

One last thing - next week we begin the ISO 17024 certification visits to get our CMC® certification process certified by ISO and IAF. When we are granted that certification, I will let everyone know via email and the blog.

Yours in consulting,
Drumm

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Don Matheson CMCChair and CEO, IMC USA
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