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#932: When Your Client Suddenly Departs

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, December 1, 2008
Updated: Sunday, December 7, 2008
I have been working with a client for about four months who suddenly left the company fora new job. She is the one I know best and who knows me best. I am afraid her replacement will not see the value of what we have done or my future services. Suggestions?

Having a relationship with only your client is a risky strategy, for two reasons. First,effective consulting requires you have insight into more than just your client's immediate world. Second, your ability to provide more services beyond just your client means you need to know, and be known by, more than just your client. If you only have a relationship with your recently departed client, then you have a challenge ahead.

However, after four months in the company,you may well have more of a network than you think. The work of researchers and practitioners of organizational network analysis, like Karen Stephenson, Valdis Krebs and Ron Burt has shown the impact of social networks on how organizations operate and change. What can you say about your client's organization in terms of who occupies the roles of technical specialist, gatekeeper, advicegiver, nodes, and resistor (various schools of network analysis use different terms)? Who really makes decisions, controls the culture,or allocates resources? Just because you do not have a relationship with the closest person to your client on the organization chart doesn't mean you don't know who has influence in the organization. Look below the surface and things may look brighter than you suspect.

Tip: Look over some of the research and application on organizational network analysis. You don't have to be an expert,just understand the principles, applications and benefits of using these concepts. Look at recent articles in HBR such as A Practical Guide to Social Networks or The People Who Make Organizations Go--or Stop, or Informal Networks: The Company Behind the Chart for insights of where to look for theseinfluencers and find new opportunities.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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