What is the right balance between building our consulting skills and learning about the changing markets for our consulting firm's services?
Both of those are certainly important, but even combined, they make up only part of what should be your professional development agenda. When you consider that your job as a management advisor is to bring value to your client, and that your client's top priority is neither your consulting skills or your marketing space, you get the idea.
I recommend you spend a significant amount of time working to both understand and to develop working skills in areas that are directly relevant to your client's business. For example, if your client is a transportation company, how much do are you regularly reading about trends in infrastructure financing, the impact of deficit reduction strategies on state and federal transportation spending, or the impacts of employment, green technologies or new safety rules on sales of new vehicles? This is what your client struggles with, and these are the kinds of insights that show your value to clients. Knowing the latest employee assessment technique or social media just doesn’t cut it.Tip:
Keep a clear priority on building skills and awareness of trends in areas of most interest, thus value, to your client. Bring your regularly renewed knowledge to your client (e.g., a copy of an article you just read, or your own 2-page summary of all you have recently read or heard) and see how appreciative and respectful your client is. Remember, it is better to be seen as standing shoulder to shoulder with your client facing the same future as partners, than to be standing behind him or her and serving only when asked.© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA