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Holiday Party Advice

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013
As we head into one of the most popular party times of the year, I hope you enjoy some ideas suggested in our small neighborhood newspaper by local columnist, Lindsey Nair. I plan to embrace this practical advice as I try to make good decisions on what to eat and what to skip.

1. Avoid carrot sticks. This totally misses the holiday spirit. If you see carrots, leave immediately and go next door where they are serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can ... and quickly because it's rare.
Since it's unavailable any other time of the year, drink up! Despite the 10,000 calories in every sip, it's a treat.

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Make a volcano mound of mashed potatoes, fill it with gravy, eat and repeat.

4. Don't snack before going to a party. Forget self control. You go to parties to eat other people's food for free. Hello?

5. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You need this time to take long naps after circling buffet tables with 10 pound plates of food and a vat of eggnog.

6. When you find something really good at the buffet table (like frosted cookies in the shape of Santa), position yourself well. Have as many as you can before drawing attention to yourself. It's like finding a great thing at Costco; if you leave it behind, you'll never see it again.

7. Fruitcake. While it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, why bother when you have all those other desserts, cookies and pies to chose from?

I hope you find these holiday tips just what you need in the days ahead.

Happy Holidays!

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When & How to Apologize to a Client

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013
Being human, there is a chance I may make a mistake in selling or delivering a service to a client. I don't want to make it worse and have clients lose confidence in me. What's the best way to apologize for a mistake and keep my reputation intact?

First, be sure it is really a mistake. If you think something is appropriate and your client thinks it's not, that is a different problem. Have a clear and mutual understanding of the client's criteria for success and high performance BEFORE the project or engagement starts.

Second, if you do recognize a mistake has been made, don't wait to acknowledge it. Talk to your client immediately about the intended outcome, and your role and responsibility for the mistake.

, after acknowledging the mistake, work to ensure both you and your client are better off as a result. Don't offer an apology with no ownership (e.g., "If you were hurt by what I did, then I am sorry") .

TIP:When you realize a mistake has been made, create a strategy to insure it doesn't happen again, even if it was not entirely your fault.

Go to your client and suggest how you can work together to make the organization stronger and better able to avoid such mistakes in the future. And make sure you include your own behaviors and practices in that strategy.

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Growing Your Network

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013
I'm in a bit of a rut as I've seem to be networking with the same people all the time. How can I refresh my network to find new business prospects?

There are several actions that can help you build or refresh your network. A key first step is to get out and meet new people. Don't sit with the same people you always do when you go to meetings or networking events.

Be strategic in who you seek out as you build your network. Is there a complimentary business or consultant who is targeting the same company industry or niche you are? Gather names of people who might be good networking partners. Pick only one off the list and contact them with a few ideas of how you could work together. Spend a few weeks developing this new addition to your network and evaluate your approach to growing your connections.

TIP:Every few weeks, pick a person and contact them to seek ways you might work together. Keep your network vibrant and productive by focusing on your first objective - how helpful you can be to them. Then share ways they can help you.

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Staying in Touch

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013
Retaining clients is easier than getting new ones, but that can be hard to do. They had an issue that I solved in the initial engagement, so where do I go now?

Finding new clients is the most expensive way to market your services. But they do bring new perspectives, stretch your consulting skills and grow your network.

While your client may not need the same services you provided in the past, your insight into their situation, needs and possibilities can be a source of additional services.

This requires staying in touch with past clients. Maintaining good communication after your initial engagement helps you establish a relationship of long-term advisor rather than being a "service provider".

TIP:Newsletters and emails are a more passive method of staying in touch. If they are more local, ask a clients to lunch or for 15 minutes of their time to catch up. Make sure you bring something of value to the meeting, such as industry research, a list of further insights related to your last engagement or the name of a person who may be a good resource for them. Be creative in staying in touch.

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Is Consulting Risky?

Posted By Administration, Thursday, December 6, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013
With so many other risks in my life, how can I reduce the risk of a consulting career?

Many people think being self-employed is risky. But the alternative isn't risk free either. Finding a good company with a good boss can lead to many years of contented employment. But you are always one downsize, one merger or, in this economy, one bad year away from being unemployed.

Diversity Reduces Risks
Joe Webb, IT consultant with Webb Tech Solutions makes a good point in his blog "Mitigating Consulting Risks". Planned and intentional diversity helps a consulting practice survive better than one with a sole focus on one client or niche.

He writes, "When we find a niche that works, we tend to stay in that niche and ignore other opportunities. And I think we do this at great risk to the longevity of our business. But what happens when that niche is no longer a safe and sure bet?"

TIP:Take a good look at your practice as you get ready to enter 2013. Consider these 3 ideas he suggests:
  1. Work with multiple clients vs. one client at a time
  2. Vary the type of projects you offer
  3. Offer complimentary services to give clients different ways to utilize you

Also check out an upcoming offering by IMC USA, "What are You Doing About Risk in Your Consulting Practice?" It's FREE to IMC USA Members, and $19 to non-members. Click on the session title to learn more.

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