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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 

#316: Leveraging Your Network

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, May 31, 2010
Updated: Monday, May 31, 2010
In what ways other than serving as a source of referrals can my network(s) benefit me?

Here are nine key ways the members of your network can help you:
  1. As a pool of potential advisory board members for a new venture
  2. As candidates for group of "proof-readers" or providers of cover testimonials for the book you've written
  3. As a focus group for a study or survey you want to conduct
  4. To find investors for raising funds for a new venture
  5. By introducing you to new people in their network (like LinkedIn but more active and personal)
  6. As a source for referrals for new business (assumes you provide them specific written guidance on exactly what you are looking for)
  7. By providing a sounding board for a new concept or a challenging problem
  8. As a source for references and testimonials
  9. By providing friendship as you move through your career (and life in general)
Tip: Cultivating and maintaining your network is an important task and time well spent. Regardless of how altruistic you believe your network is toward you, it's essential that to receive assistance and support from a well-maintained network, you are obligated to reciprocate and always "give back" to your colleagues. As the saying goes about relationships, "you must make deposits before you can expect to make withdrawals."

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  collaboration  consulting colleagues  goodwill  networks 

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#315: Association Memberships

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, May 28, 2010
Updated: Friday, May 28, 2010
I belong to several professional associations, ranging from technical to marketing to industry groups. How do I know which ones are really working for me?

We join professional associations to increase our skills and knowledge, increase our exposure to others in our profession and, ultimately, to increase our ability to practice our chosen discipline. IMC USA describes this as Get Smart, Get Known and Get Business. If your association is helping you with all three, then it is probably a good one for you.

Another issue is the nature of the professional support you get. One example is management consulting, which consists of two distinct parts: the "What" and the "How." You should belong to associations that can help you improve in both areas.

The "What" is your technical discipline and industry perspective, and associations like SHRM, IEEE, ASTD and other technical associations are "musts" to belong to. The "How" complements technical with consulting skills and behaviors, ethics, interpersonal and organizational capabilities, and the opportunity to meet and learn from people in many different technical disciplines.

As cross-disciplinary skills and experience become more important, professionals need places to meet and work with others in different fields. Someone with technical skills without consulting skills (and vice versa) will find it increasingly hard to keep up in the management consulting profession.

Tip: If you are a practicing management consultant and already belong to a technical association, IMC USA invites you to explore membership in the premier professional association and sole certifying body for management consultants in the US. With the coming ISO registration for management consultants (which will be based on the CMC designation awarded by IMCs around the world), greater commitment to yourprofession through associations and professional certification in both technical as well as consulting disciplines become of equal importance.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  career  consulting colleagues  education  learning  professional association  professional development  professionalism  trends  your consulting practice 

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#314: Getting in the Middle of Client Disputes

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, May 27, 2010
Updated: Thursday, May 27, 2010
I have occasionally found myself in the middle of client disputes in which one person comes to me to complain about another, who has already complained to me about the first. If the goal of my engagement is to improve morale, is this a reasonable part of my scope of work?

This is more common than one would think. As a trusted advisor to a client sponsor and, in many cases, client staff, you are a logical and comfortable option for venting of internal issues, be they operational, political or personal. It is gratifying that people can come to you with the intent of resolving conflict but this is a problem for both you and them.

However, much of your value to a client is your independence and objectivity. By placing yourself in the middle of a conflict, especially if it is between staff and management, you lose the perception, if not fact, of independence and objectivity. It is highly likely that someone will consider your role in the resolution of the conflict as partisan, which reduces your effectiveness as a consultant for the larger part of your engagement.

Tip: It is best to counsel those who come to you with conflicts that they are best served using the established company channels or, if not an official company issue, to address directly the person with whom they have an issue. Don’t confuse their trust of you as license to mediate. There may, however, be a beneficial opportunity for you to use the situation to contribute to helping the client, if only to advise in the improvement of processes or policies that led to the creation or resolution of the issue, but it should be outside of the particular issue itself.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client staff  consultant role  ethics  goodwill  reputation  roles and responsibilities 

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#313: Will Anyone Remember You After Your Speech?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I don't speak much but I have a few opportunities coming up. How can I make sure attendees consider their time well spent?

Most of all, make sure they hear and see something memorable. This means a solid and timely topic to present. Nothing is less memorable than a talk that is loosely organized, that they have heard before, or that is hard to follow. Even if it is a topic you know well, update it with references to current or emerging aspects of your audience's industry, professional discipline or region. Set a standard of at least one-quarter of the content should be outside the "conventional wisdom."

Two quick tips. First, do something different from every other presentation and speech your audience sees. This could be a contest or a series of questions to the audience about the topic. You will engage them as well as gather some market research about audience awareness or attitudes about the topic. They will remember because they were engaged and learned something about how others saw the topic. Make it challenging.

Second, make it easy for the audience to connect with you after the event. They may remember you the day of the event, but you asked how to make them remember you weeks or years after the event. The usual strategies apply: hand out your business cards, make sure your contact info is on your slides, put a handout on every seat before your talk, and collect business cards from all attendees. Consider a reference guide or a summary booklet of your speech in place of just a business card.

Tip: You want to know who is most interested in your expertise under the assumption that they are future clients or partners. Offer something through your website related to your talk, preferably an update or subscription to your speaking topic. This will let you know who is really interested in you and your expertise and provide an ongoing way to engage them in a conversation about the topic. This does not have to be a formal newsletter; it could even be a monthly email from you on trends in your topic. Don't make it harder than need be, and start to use information from your correspondence with your community.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  presentations  speaking 

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#312: How Good Is Your Social Media Strategy?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, May 25, 2010
A client asked me for some quick and informal advice on social media but doesn't want to bring in an expert in this area. What are the key areas I should focus on?

First, don't make the common mistake thinking this is about technology. There are lots of online applications to which you can devote a lot of time and effort, with varying degrees of success. Technology is the conclusion in a social media strategy, not the opening act. Start with the basics of marketing and define what it is that you are trying to accomplish online that you can't offline, or as a way to leverage offline marketing.

Second, given the potential complexity of social media and the fluidity of its evolution, you really need a robust strategy to be effective. A profile here, a blog there, and a discussion group over there is not a strategy. Third (and finally for this tip but far from last for your purposes), take a deliberate track into social media, tackling one or two pieces at a time and get them right before moving on to the next tactic. Know what is working for your client (or you) and check back often to assure that it still works.

Tip: A great list of evaluation criteria is from Lori Dicker's article 10 signs it's time for a social media makeover. Included are discussions of how length of scope, relation of social media to business planning, the size of your financial commitment, your perceived need for a social media policy and how much of your social media is driven through your website. All important items that can serve as a quick (but quite insightful) checklist to evaluate social media atrategy.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand management  client service  communication  marketing  social media 

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