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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 

#691: Your Attitude is A Powerful Resource

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 7, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 7, 2011
Balancing a consulting lifestyle can be complex, between personal interests and doing triage for client services, marketing, research, writing, networking and more. How do I keep from getting overwhelmed by these demands?

Things happen, to be sure, but you have a lot of control over the circumstances in which you find yourself. You also have a lot of control over how you see the world. Bad days are inevitable; bad attitudes are optional.

Think of people you associate with. Some can find something positive to say about any situation. A lost client is an opportunity to hone the sales pitch. A project that gets off track is a chance to work on project management skills. You leave a conversation with them feeling invigorated and positive.

Then there are people who can find something negative to say about any situation, even a neutral one. The new engagement will make them too busy to take a vacation. The researcher they hired doesn't have any useful skills.You leave a conversation with these toxic people feeling drained and dreading the next encounter.

Consultants, by nature, look for flaws and, consequently, improvement opportunities in every situation. We are trained to see the downside of people and processes, but that doesn't mean we have to carry that perception over into our dealing with our colleagues. Even when you think you are being "honest" or "helpful," doing so does not help.

Tip: Commit to leave every conversation with people feeling better than when you found them, whether family, client or colleague. This applies to you and the other person or persons. Find something positive to comment on, work on or look forward to. Everyone wins.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  assumptions  consulting colleagues  consulting lifestyle  professionalism  work-life balance 

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#690: Social Bookmarking is a Key Tool for Consultants

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, November 4, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 4, 2011
Consultants use the Internet for information, techniques and research. My colleagues, as well your Daily Tips, provide great URLs but I've heard about social bookmarking as a way to find better sites faster. What is social bookmarking?

Think about trying to organize all your favorite sites or articles from among the billions of web pages. You bookmark good sites and tell your friends, but the web is too dynamic for you to find, much less organize or keep up to date, them all. You can subscribe to clipping services or Google Alerts, both of which will feed you a stream of data. The problem is that these are mechanically and keyword generated and may not be really what interests you.

Social bookmarking is a better way to organize your bookmarks through tagging and to take advantage of the best thinking and judgment of your peers to collectively identify the most relevant sites. You have better and faster access to sites you can use in ways you wouldn't otherwise ever have known about.

A social bookmarking survey (a few years ago) showed that 6 out of 7 people don't use social bookmarking (also called content discovery services) because they don't know about them, don't understand how they work or don't understand their value. If you haven't heard of Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon, Technorati or other sites, sign up for them and start getting advice from those you know and trust, not just those generated by a machine. It will amaze you how much interesting and useful content you can have fed regularly to you.

Tip: Like any new skill or practice, this is worth a few minutes of your time to master. It goes without saying that your client can benefit from your showing them how to keep up with the latest technology. Who doesn't want to look like a star to our clients?

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  information management  market research  social media  technology 

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#689: There is Some Value in Cold Calling by Consultants

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, November 3, 2011
Updated: Thursday, November 3, 2011
I want to extend my practice to an industry in which I have no experience, but for which I think I could provide good service. I have no contacts but would like to know if cold calling is an effective way to make myself known.

Cold calling, as traditionally defined, is generally a bad strategy for consultants. The idea of getting a name off a mailing list or the lobby directory and calling unannounced is likely to result in two things. First, you annoy the person, most likely a senior manager, you are trying to dazzle with your capabilities. Second, you leave an impression that you are somewhat desperate to get work, so much so that you are trying to shortcut the effort required to build a relationship. In essence, you are trying to make withdrawals from a business relationship "bank account" before you have made any deposits.

Recognizing that you are new to the industry and do not have a ready referral network, why not try a "modified cold call," that minimizes the downside of traditional cold calling. This does require some research and, although it is a "cold" route to get to prospects, you do arrive at a prospect's door armed with something valuable to offer.

You probably know enough about the industry that it is an attractive consulting target for you. So, you probably know enough to draft a white paper on key trends in the industry and, given your understanding of the companies, you will recognize several of those companies that are leading positive trends or are in serious trouble. These may well be your prospects, if you can prepare a cogent argument of how your services can bring value to their rise or reverse their decline.

Tip: Prepare a company specific plan of action or white paper targeted at the company or subsector in which the company works. Contact (this is a "cool" call) the appropriate executive with an offer to discuss a specific action they could take to improve their lot. You may have to send the piece ahead to get the appointment, but this should be sufficiently intriguing to land you a face to face conversation about a specific action for which you could provide value. Make sure you have a testimonial/referral or two to back up your claim you can deliver this service.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  communication  marketing  sales 

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#688: Tap Your "Other" Networks

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2011
I have a good network in IMC, through which I get and give a stream of engagements from my consulting colleagues. What other types of networks could I tap?

Networks come in all types and sizes, and they are valuable for more than just getting consulting work. Management consulting addresses complex issues that encompass political, economic, cultural, legal, demographic, sociological, and environmental factors. None of us has the experience or perspective to know how to address each of these factors in our work.

This is where a diverse set of networks can help. Just as diversity on a team brings a richer solution for your client, diversity in the type of networks you are connected to improve your effectiveness as a consultant.

Tip: Select and commit to participate actively in, say, three types of networks. Your first should be your professional association related to your technical discipline or industry (e.g., International Widget Makers, IMC, and ASTD). The second should be a local business group (e.g., chamber of commerce, board of trade). The third can be a social or service organization unrelated to your consulting focus (e.g., Rotary, educational, musical, and athletic). Each group brings you in contact with different types of individuals and organizations. Their way of seeing the world as well as their breadth of contacts are both beneficial to your skills and behaviors as a consultant and to broadening your sources of clientele.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting colleagues  networks  referrals 

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#687: Recognize the Difference Between Experts and Professional Consultants

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2011
As the economy worsens and people are laid off, won't that increase the number of people who call themselves "consultants"?

Yes, it is easy for someone who has been laid off to put up a shingle and call themselves a consultant. However, maintaining a consulting practice means continually delivering value over a long time. To become a professional consultant does require more than just the desire or happenstance of "doing a little consulting."

If you are worried about competition, then consider this a good thing. You probably work hard to develop your professional consulting skills and behaviors, including certification or achieving a national reputation in an industry or discipline. Tough economic times create opportunities as well as risks for consultants. Many consulting firms go out of business when times are tough, just as many new firms are formed.

Seek out new consultants to find out which ones will make valuable partners and which ones do not (yet) have the fully developed skills and behaviors of a professional consultant. At a minimum, look for opportunities to take on new partners and evaluating the continued value of current partners.

Tip: Rather than fear or resent new consultants, welcome new consultants into your network and professional associations to evaluate where their knowledge and skills might be useful to you and your clients. However, remember that consulting is a profession and select your colleagues from the professionals, not just those with some experience. If you know skilled individuals who you think might make excellent consultants and who are considering such a move into consulting, suggest that they join an organization like IMC to develop the consulting competencies, behaviors and ethics of a professional consultant, in effect turning an expert into a consultant.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  collaboration  consulting colleagues  marketing  professionalism  reputation 

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