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#593: Get a Fast Start When Consulting to a New Industry

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Every so often I get a client with whose industry I am unfamiliar. I am a process improvement specialist, so this is not a problem, but I would like to get into the industry culture and perspective more than just talking to my client. Suggestions?

Your client and your colleagues who work in that industry are your first choices. Getting the culture of your client's organization is as important as the climate of the industry overall. However, I understand that you want to get a broader, industry wide perspective.

There are two quick resources (among many) you could turn to. One is the relevant trade associations, of which there are often one or more for any given company or industry. Probably the most comprehensive sources is Thompson Gale Publishing's Encyclopedia of Associations, which has over 4,000 pages of descriptions of the more than 100,000 nonprofits in the US (there is an international version as well). Unless you plan to pursue lots of new industries, this annual directory is something you might look over at a library, where you can take advantage of other industry directories to which the research librarians can direct you (university or business school libraries have lots of access to proprietary databases as well, if you can arrange for access to them).

A second source, and one that will give you some deeper insight over a longer period of time, is an industry's periodical (again, many industries have more than one). For example, the petroleum industry has more than 25 publications covering a range of industry segments. A source to help identify available periodicals is BNET, the Business Network. BNET's website lists hundreds of industry publications. Some of these are free and some are subscription based. 

Tip: Since some of these may take a few weeks to begin arriving if you are considering hard copies), you may be able to subscribe to newsfeeds from them. This will provide you with not only the top stories from the print periodical, but also additional up to date news between issues. Feedzilla is a great utility to access feeds or build your own feed.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  learning  market research 

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