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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 

#566: Capture the Benefits of a Sense of Urgency

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, May 16, 2011
Updated: Monday, May 16, 2011
Having left a large consulting firm to start my own practice, I spend a lot of time doing things I never had to do before, incuding administration. Is it just a more efficient use of time to be in a (scalable?) larger firm?

One of the great things about being an independent consultant is that we have a lot of control over our time. At some point in our career, we can take the clients we want and negotiate our schedules. The opportunity of flexibility is not an obligation to waste time. Precisely because you have control of time means you should treat it as a precious commodity. Consultants, and managers, who respect time make steady progress against their goals by using it well.

As the expression goes, hard work always beats talent that doesn't work hard. The same is true of people who use time as well as their talent. Those with a sense of urgency will get started, and get finished, with their work sooner and accomplish more.

Make this sense of urgency a habit and a develop a reputation with others for using your, and their, time wisely. Prepare your daily, weekly and project schedules to make the best use of time and regularly evaluate and revise them. Expect that those with whom you work also treat time with respect, especially yours. Ask for updates to their schedules and what they think may put them off schedule. Always remember that time wasted is time gone forever.

Tip: Give the gift of time to others. Think of ways you can save others time in your interactions with them. Suggest ways of combining tasks or running them in parallel. Offer to provide a service for someone to save them time or suggest a process for saving time. There is no greater gift.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting colleagues  goodwill  performance improvement  reputation  time management  values  your consulting practice 

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#565: Choose Information Sources Carefully When Prospecting For New Business

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, May 13, 2011
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2011
My consulting firm focuses on improving operations but with, the economy starting to grow again, we see a lot of companies seeming to prefer expansion or acquisition of new facilities rather than improving current operations. With a diverse client base, how can we identify growth markets so we can best position ourselves?

You are right that what passes as a growth opportunity increasingly includes acquisition. During, the recent phase of the economic cycle, many companies hunkered down, trimmed staff and expenses and improved efficiency. Now it's time to pursue the prudent expansion (but still not much hiring) strategy. I infer that you are asking how your consulting firm can get a sense of where your clients might go next.

The particulars of your industry will dictate what regions might best suit your positioning needs, but there are several sources of information you might find useful. Many trade and business journals regularly publish articles describing the "best" places for business. These address different perspectives such as best to start a business, best for small business, best for green business, best places to reduce your taxes, etc. Each publication comes with its own perspective, data sources and (pay close attention to this) their own political perspective. One source's "best" may differ significantly from another's based on relative emphasis on work-life culture vs. taxes vs. support structure vs. innovation systems vs. education/training capacity vs. recent population or job growth/decline vs. housing and land prices, etc. Be clear what sources and perspectives you (and your target client) think relevant and the validity of their data sources and analysis before settling on any one "best" list.

Tip: Since you are going to be divining what is in the mind of executives at your client companies, look first at articles aimed at CEOs. An independent business publication or journal is probably more objective than gathering city or regional business marketing materials. For example, ChiefExecutive.net annually lists the best and worst states for business, at least according to their selected criteria.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  market research  planning  prospect  trends 

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#564: How Valuable Is Your Website?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, May 12, 2011
Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2011
When I redesigned my website five years ago, it was "state of the art" but now I am not so sure? Are websites still useful for market presence and business generation?

Depends on what your site does and what you expect it to do. It is true that a website designed as recently as five years ago (seems like a century in Internet years) is unlikely to incorporate the tools and capabilities it could, particularly in social media. It is just as likely that your approach to web presence may need an updating if you are even asking the question.

Five years ago, many people used their websites as electronic brochures, essentially static representations of capabilities, experience and perhaps some free resources or paid content. The intent was to provide a more widely accessible and updatable corporate brochure. That worked really well, and we all created sites that did that. Since then, our approach to business presence and much of service delivery has migrated from "one to many" communication to building and active participation in communities. This is a lot harder than the paper to electronic brochure transition because it requires a change in how we think about business, not just a change in format.

Thus, asking whether our website is up to our needs first requires us to ask what our marketing needs are and in what online and social media strategies we are prepared to invest our money and time. And just having a LinkedIn and Twitter profile is not enough. Although perhaps a bit harsh, there is increasingly a divide between those who actively participate in social and online communities (there are thousands of communities in which to participate, unlike the "one big Internet" of a few years ago) and those who stand in a corner waiting to be asked to participate. Finally, in addition to the new tools and applications available, your website (or the space it currently occupies) should be part of your service delivery strategy, not just marketing.

Tip: Technology has changed so much that your marketing and service strategies need to take a hard look at your website's role. In one sense, never having had a website might let you be better able to look at how to build out the online portion of your marketing, practice management and client service strategies. Take a look at Is It Time to Shut Down Your Website?.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  technology  website 

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#563: Get the Recognition You Deserve By Speaking at Conferences

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I know a lot about my industry but am not known as an "expert." In fact, I suspect I know a lot more than most people who are considered the experts. What can I do to increase my exposure and image?

First, there is a big difference between being an expert and being recognized by others as an expert. Many "innovative" business processes attributed to management practitioners are variations on processes that were already developed and widely used in another forum. Good marketing may not always substitute for innovation and expertise, but you will eventually need to create ideas, information and processes in a new way to be recognized as more than just a practitioner.

Second, given that you have something new and valuable to offer, how do you get for yourself the maximum exposure in your industry? One suggestion is to get the implicit endorsement of your industry trade association by speaking about the state of your industry at annual or regional conferences. Associations are always looking for speakers and if you approach them well before the conference solicitation for speakers is issued, you will have an opportunity to frame a topic to your particular expertise.

Identify several trade or professional associations related to your area of expertise. There are several disciplines that could be directly or indirectly related, just as there are primary and secondary industry associations or business groups. With this list (there may be 10-20 on the list), prepare a white paper on trends in your area of expertise/discipline/industry and identify how these will affect each group on your list.

Tip: Find out when each organization has upcoming conferences and contact them to offer your services as speaker. Manage this so you leverage speaking at one conference with others, indicating that you are scheduled to speak to associations A and B, and you think members of trade group C would benefit from the same information. At the same time, offer to author an article (also desired by associations) related to your white paper or to conduct a member survey. If you are allowed to do these, you can add the data and feedback from the association's members to your portfolio of "expert" content.

Based on this investment in your own education as well as visibility, you will create credibility not only to the association but also to its members. You increasingly become and are seen as an expert.

P.S.Contact associations well before they issue a call for speakers so you can make sure your focus is included in the list of aceptable topics.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  market research  marketing  presentations  publicity  reputation  your consulting practice 

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#562: How To Avoid Turning Off Your Clients

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2011
My client often wants to do things in ways that I have tried before and am pretty certain will not work. When I try to advise them of a better way to approach the problem, they are clearly "turned off" and seem to lose energy. Is there a way to handle this situation in a more positive way that will keep them excited and engaged?

It is easy to "turn off" folks. Here are a few approaches to help you avoid "turning-off" your client:
  1. Avoid assigning ownership to the approaches ("your" way vs. "my" way).
  2. Always acknowledge that there are merits to their approach. Stress that the client's suggested approach is not that much different from the way you prefer.
  3. Piggyback off the client's idea, making it appear that you are simply enhancing their good approach.
  4. Isolate the areas of the client approach that you feel will be problematic and explain the reasoning behind your feelings. Collaboratively work on addressing the more problematic components of the client's approach.
  5. Always respectfully inquire about the rationale for their approach prior to presenting your preferred solution.
  6. Avoid the ultimate error of not listening very carefully to the clients reasoning behind their approach. You might have missed something critical!
Tip: Clients get "turned off" when they feel their ideas are being ignored, disregarded, pushed aside or unfairly rejected. Always take great care not to turn an "engaged" client into a "disengaged" one.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  client relations  communication  goodwill  professionalism  reputation 

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