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Between 2005 and 2011, IMC published Daily Tips every weekday on consulting ethics, marketing, service delivery and practice management. You may search more than 800 tips on this website using keywords in "Search all posts" or clicking on a tag in the Top Tags list to return all tips with that specific tag. Comment on individual tips (members and registered guests) or use the Contact Us form above to contact Mark Haas CMC, FIMC, Daily Tips author/editor. Daily Tips are being compiled into several volumes and will be available through IMC USA and Mark Haas.

 

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Top tags: client relations  communication  customer understanding  your consulting practice  marketing  consultant role  learning  client service  reputation  goodwill  consulting process  market research  practice management  sales  ethics  planning  client development  engagement management  innovation  proposals  professional development  professionalism  knowledge assets  prospect  trends  presentations  recommendations  consulting colleagues  intellectual property  product development 

#205: Volunteering for Professional Committees and Boards

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, December 25, 2009
In a previous tip you mentioned getting active in association committees/boards. Frankly, I have found them time consuming and pretty much a waste of time. What am I missing?

Professional association activities can be time consuming. Unless you think this through, it might appear that donating time reduces your earning potential. So why would you give up earning hours to do it? Primarily because, if you are a professional management consultant and not just a treating consulting as just a job, you have an obligation to support your profession. Given your organizational skills, you also have something unique to contribute and can demonstrate that by playing a leadership role in your committee or board activities. By doing so, you get the benefit of added experience in organizational development or governance as well as you will receive the recognition that goes along with it. A few thoughts:
  • Unless you are at the beginning of your consulting career avoid committees that meet often or for long duration and/or where excessive travel is involved. If you are concerned about the time commitment, join those that are primarily virtual and seem to run efficiently and where less frequent/distant travel is required.
  • Join committees where you feel you have a real ability to contribute and whose work supports the advancement of the profession.
  • Contribute in areas where the people you work with can teach you something, connect you with someone, or are people whose capabilities you admire.
Tip: Treat this like you do when evaluating prospective clients. Evaluate how much you will gain in experience, skills, visibility, and contribution to the profession. Talk to those who contribute the most time to their profession. They will tell you that, other than a waste of time, it can be a real advance to their professional capabilities as well as, however indirectly, highly lucrative.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  boards  goodwill  professional association  professional development  your consulting practice 

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#204: Meetings Away From Your Office

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, December 24, 2009
When I was with a large firm, we always had lots of space for meetings. now that I am on my own, getting appropraite meeting space near my office or out of town can be a challenge. How do other consultants handle meetings space in or out of town?

The first option is always a client's space, unless they don't have it or when meeting in that space is inappropriate. This is certainly convenient for client staff. If this doesn't work, or if we are talking about a nonclient, then there are a number of options. You are hardly the first person to face this challenge. A whole industry has grown up around providing on-demand meeting space.

Considerations on choosing an approach include: one-time or multiple use? Include services or just a table and chairs? Budget? Need audiovisual technology? A few hours or several days? Secure space or not? Here is a basic list of options:
  • Airport - join one or more airline clubs, which offer common or private space. Pick the airline with clubs in the cities you are most likely to do business, and the clubs with the greatest accessibility. Some clubs provide daily access or use of your premium credit card for access.
  • Hotels - Sometimes staying in a multi-room suite is cheaper than renting a meeting room. Some hotels have public areas in which you can find a quiet corner for a small group meeting.
  • Restaurants - Depending on your needs, you may be able to arrange with the restaurant for a private room or corner table.
  • Business Clubs - Some have reciprocity with clubs you may belong to, others are member-only.
  • Professional Meeting Space - All kinds of choices here from corporate rental to residential centers. Regus is one of many companies with facilities in hundreds of cities.
  • Other options - libraries, museums, universities, government facilities, and other seemingly public places often have rooms for rent, or free usage.

Tip: Use your IMC connections to contact someone in the city to which you are travelling and ask for their recommendations.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  meeting preparation  virtual teams  your consulting practice 

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#203: Sending Out Your Own Tips

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, December 23, 2009
You wrote about providing too much information to clients. What about providing them a regular tip like you do?

Obviously we think tips are useful to consultants. We have subscribers in more than 100 countries and sometimes get substantial inquiries as well as questions that start two-way conversations. The first challenge is to identify who your audience is, which is a function of what you want the tip to do for you. Support current clients? Publicize your expertise? Saturate a market or two with your name? Build up a body of content for a book? Satisfy your need to blog about your ideas? Be clear about what you want before you launch into writing. Daily Tips for Consultants is meant to support excellence and ethics in management consulting (our mission) and is targeted at all levels of experience, discipline and industry. This is why tips vary in their sophistication, directness and applicability for your tastes.

Write some tips to run by a few trusted colleagues for format, content, style and impact (tell them what you want the tips to do for you).Pick a frequency that works for you and your target. Daily tips can be a lot to both read and write, so try weekly or monthly. Consider labeling it with your name, e.g., Rita's Weekly Marketing Tips, or Jim's Daily Board Governance Tips.

Tip: Make sure you have included a mechanism for people to respond to you - at least an email if not a phone number (if you want a response). And remember to post links to your tips everywhere – your website, on a second business card, on your collateral and in your email signature line. Make it easy for people to subscribe and to unsubscribe.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  brand  education  intellectual property  knowledge assets  sales  writing  your consulting practice 

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#202: Client Info Overload

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I like to send my clients all kinds of things, e.g., articles from professional journals, thoughts, recent news, specific recommendations, and all sorts of things I believe will be helpful. My concern is that they don't read it all. How do I deal with this?

We are all on information overload and your clients are no different. Part of our service is to make the client's life easier, pointing them to the right information at the right time. Don't assume just because something is interesting to you that it will also be for your client. Also, be sure this is something that can be used, whether by themselves or their staff. What they don't need is something that is just a fact, trend or summary that they have to think hard about how to use it (these are data but not information, and certainly not knowledge).

Tip: Start by being judicious about who gets what. You probably don't have more than a dozen really close relationships with clients. Limit your sendouts to just those you know well and are current on their needs. When you do send something, tell the client why it is worth reading, and help them to not read it by telling the client what the major relevant point is for their business. If you are really articulate and know them well, you can summarize the main points and let them use the item for backup. Make sure the recipient knows immediately from the headline and summary what is nice to know vs. what is important, critical to their business.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  communication  consultant role  information management  knowledge assets 

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#201: Lighten Up

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, December 21, 2009
Updated: Monday, December 21, 2009
As a professional advisor to executives, I maintain a businesslike demeanor in my dress, habits and services. This is what I am being paid for, so I conduct myself accordingly. However, I sometimes get the sense that my clients are not on the same wavelength. What gives?

First of all, lighten up. Yes, your clients are paying for your insights, experience, and skills. What they are not paying for is your being stiff, distant, and "businesslike." Being professional does not mean being humorless and dull.

Consultants seem to think that clients are buying competence. So this is what they sell. Just look at their literature - long lists of services, features, clients, and the things they will "do" for a client.

This is misdirected. Clients assume competence as given, but are really looking for confidence - confidence that they are entrusting their organization to someone who has perspective, understands them and their emotional needs, and has good, old fashioned common sense. Try to consult based on a template and both you and the client will lose.

Lighten up by getting inside the client's head. What hobbies does he or she enjoy? What do they find funny? What aspects of the business do they feel good about? What aspects of the current challenge they face do they find emotionally most vexing? How can you put them at ease and feel that you really see them as people and not as an "engagement?" You can still deliver your technical skills and perspective, but don't forget that you are seeking to satisfy their emotional needs, not just their intellectual ones.

Tip: Take a moment to enjoy laughing at yourself.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  customer understanding  goodwill  professionalism  reputation 

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