I know I should be going to more conferences and doing more reading, but I just can't find the time. Consulting to clients is my priority right now.
Although I guess I should be used to it by now, I am always surprised when this comes up in conversation. A presumably professional consultant is saying that delivering services based on what they learned years ago is more important than keeping up with emerging trends in consulting, management and business. Apparently lifelong learning, developing consulting competencies, working on your business acumen through peer interaction, and skill building in service delivery - the hallmarks of a professional consultant - aren't as universal as we would hope.
Contrast a professional with a journeyman consultant. The journeyman delivers services based on what he or she learned on the job. Professionals create value for themselves and their clients by investing in their education, peer interactions, learning, research, reading, and writing. Your value as a consultant declines with your depletion of knowledge based on just experience. Business is moving quickly enough that if you are not recreating your practice every few years, you will slowly (or quickly, depending on your specialty) become outdated and of little value to your clients. Tip:
Just like investing your money, if you don't invest in yourself as a priority, you may never make the investment. When you lay out your professional development plan each year, schedule your conferences at one time. Don't get into the bad habit of saying to yourself, "I don't know what my client demands are for that month so I can't plan to go to that conference now." There are lots of reasons why you can't meet with a client, but telling them you are unavailable because you are expanding your skills and networks say a lot about your professionalism.© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA