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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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#536: Every Consultant Benefits From Courage

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, April 4, 2011
Updated: Monday, April 4, 2011
Sometimes I worry (both for myself as well as other consultants) that it comes off as arrogance when a consultant assumes that their experience, expertise and hard work are the unqualified best approach for a client to take?

According to professional services consultant David Maister, in his article The Consultant's Role, the biggest hindrance to a consultant's success is a lack of courage to stand by the long-term goals, plans and strategic vision they have set for themselves. This applies equally for engagement-specific findings and recommendations.

The temptation to qualify your recommendations may seem to provide your client flexibility or an "out" in accepting your findings and recommendations, but this does your client no favor. You were retained to provide your best advice based on your expertise and diligence. Your job is to recommend; your client’s job is to decide. Unless you are not sufficiently experienced to take on the engagement (in which case you should have declined for ethical reasons) or you do not have access to sufficient information, you should have full confidence in your work. Call it arrogance if you wish, but even with qualifications, this is your best work and you need to stand behind it.

Tip: Maister's book, The Trusted Advisor is still a classic regarding the importance of trust and confidence in client relationships.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  consultant role 

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#535: Make Audience Time Your Public Speaking Research Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, April 1, 2011
Updated: Friday, April 1, 2011
I am an experienced consultant wanting to do more public speaking. I see hundreds of books on the topic but most seem to address the same simplistic style and format issues. Where would I find "advanced" public speaking sources?

If you already do some speaking and recognize a good speaker when you see one, then you have all the resources you need right in front of you when you are in the audience. For the past several years, I take two set of notes when I listen to the speaker. On one sheet of paper I jot down points the speaker makes or ideas stimulated by the topic. My other sheet of paper is a list of good, and bad, features of the speaker, environment and presentation.

I have collected a lot of ideas. Some seemed great at the time but are not my style. Others were headed for the wastebasket but, on a second review, I held on to them for use in particular circumstances. The trick is to compile tips and tricks in some sense of structure. I now use a sheet of paper with categories on it: speaker movement, opening (first minute), introduction, visual aids, audience engagement, audience reaction, handouts, audience preparation, presumed audience knowledge (beyond readaheads), follow up (e.g., asking for business cards from audience), pacing of talk and modulation of voice, use of humor, etc.

After a few years, I am developing a few "styles" that both suit me and work as a package. One caution is to not throw a bunch of good ideas together and expect them to work as a package - some speaker styles just won't work with others. Finally, this has to be something you get to gradually, and should be based on good speakers. Feel free to note particularly ineffective speaker techniques.

Tip: Foremost, these techniques should be built on top of your own personality, style and speaking topics. Use your research as an audience member to refine your own core speaking approach, not build one from scratch.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  innovation  learning  speaking 

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#534: Your Online Identity is More than Just Social Media

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, March 31, 2011
Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2011
I hear about managing my company's "O-dentity" (online identity) is more than just my website and social media profiles. What else should I be doing?

From just having a pretty and functional static website 15 years ago to engaging in selected discussion forums and maintaining several social media profiles and a targeted blog today, what constitutes your online image has evolved. It will likely continue to do so. Here are a few ideas about what to attend to in maintaining a powerful o-dentity:
  • One individual is best to oversee and integrate all aspect of your online presence. Although each blog, website, forum, interactive forum, etc. can be maintained by separate individuals, it is best if one person understands and sets the strategy for the collection of these mechanisms.
  • Technology now makes it possible to engage your customers and the interested public. Figure out a way to move beyond a static website to an interactive one, whether it is soliciting inquiries or hosting a set of targeted discussion forums. If you are looking for clients or partners, talk to them, not just at them.
  • Respond to inquiries, comments and complaints on your website with the same level of interest you would from a phone call. Check your incoming web inquiries as frequently as you check for phone messages, not whenever you get around to it. Many people would rather interact this way instead of by phone.
  • Offer a continuously expanding (or at least enhanced) suite of services or avenues for interaction. Everything has a lifespan and it is likely that after a few months of discussion on a topic, it is time to offer something new. Don't be known as the site that used to be interesting but is now lame.
Tip: Your o-dentity needs to be a core part of your communication, marketing and sales strategies. It is easy to just design and implement and forget that your public values fresh and innovative as much as it does content itself.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  blogs  communication  marketing  publicity  social media  technology  website 

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#533: Are You Too Focused on "Business"?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
My clients are in the foundation and nonprofit space but it sometimes irks me that consultants are asked to make these organizations "run more like a business." Unlike a for profit business, my clients' missions are not to maximize shareholder wealth, so is it right to be doing so?

In the end, the main difference between for profit and non profit is the disposition of profits. The largest foundations have assets that put them well inside the Fortune 500 and some operate with thousands of employees across the globe. Therefore, it is logical to consider them businesses because they are. Just because their missions are not oriented to shareholders does not mean that the leadership, strategy customer service, information management, human resource and business processes don't deserve your best improvement efforts. The outcome of applying your consulting skills is not profitability to shareholders but service to stakeholders.

Consider that a poorly run nonprofit or foundation loses the trust of its funders and service recipients. It also fails to generate enough revenue or control costs such that it compromises its ability to fully achieve its mission. Finally, employees and volunteers working at an organization with an inefficient, unfair or dysfunctional working environment will not contribute their best efforts. For these reasons and more, your best efforts to run your clients' organizations efficiently and effectively are valid.

Tip: That said, the constituents of every organization, for profit or nonprofit, benefit from competence consulting advice aimed at good "business" practices. This applies to public sector organizations as well. Some government agencies and nonprofits are so effectively managed that they put a lot of for profit businesses to shame. Your clients can be in this category.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  business culture  consultant role  customer understanding 

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#532: Principles of a Personally Intelligent Consultant

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Clients are pretty clear about wanting specific technical skills and "soft" skills in their consultants. Beyond those "requested" attributes, what else should I focus on for my own development and growth?

Often our clients are judged not only by intellect, training or expertise but also by how well they manage themselves and how well they deal with other people. Personal Intelligence is increasingly important in the success of our clients as well as our own success and satisfaction as consultants.

Kenton Hill, Ed. D., CMC, offers a set of personal intelligence principles as standards to develop personal intelligence, and guide him in his work to recognize, understand, value and apply emotions effectively in his consulting practice.

SELF-AWARENESS: I must be confident in knowing who I am and understanding the impact of my strengths and weaknesses before I can truly be of service to others.

SELF-REGULATION: I have a responsibility to manage my own feelings, thoughts, and actions in a positive way that maintains a genuine high standard of personal integrity.

SELF-MOTIVATION: I have an obligation to develop continuously and apply consistently my personal resources to the ever-changing, increasing demands of my profession.

SOCIAL AWARENESS: I must seek to know, understand, and be sensitive to the feelings, needs, and concerns of all of my constituents, especially those of the people I serve.

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING: I bear the greater responsibility for establishing, nurturing, and where necessary, resolving differences in my interpersonal relationships with colleagues and with the people I serve.

INTERPERSONAL INFLUENCE: I have an obligation to foster desirable responses in others by modeling as well as challenging, inspiring, enabling, and encouraging everyone to work together toward shared goals.

Tip: While sometimes a challenge to successfully apply, these principles are helpful reminders as you strive to provide high quality, professional consulting services to your clients. They were adapted from Smart Isn't Enough: Lessons From A Work Performance Coach, (Xlibris, 2007) by Kenton R. Hill Ed.D., CMC. (www.KenHillKRH.com).

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting skills  guidance  learning  professional development  professionalism  values 

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