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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 

#511: Don't Get Stuck in the Chalet in Consulting Engagements

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, February 28, 2011
Updated: Monday, February 28, 2011
If my client is the company executive, and she wants me to focus on only C-suite issues, how much time do I need to spend interviewing and hanging out with staff?

A common criticism of WWI generals in Europe was that they were out of touch with conditions on the ground because they spent too much (or all) their time in their chalets. The justification was that generals needed to coordinate with their officers in comfortable conditions. This disconnect proved to frequently be disastrous because it led them to pursue strategies that didn't reflect the conditions or needs of their own or opponents troops.

There is a powerful tendency for consultants to make the same mistake. When your client sponsor is the CEO and he or she wants to spend a lot of time discussing C-level issues, you may find it easy to spend most of your time there. Or you may venture a few feet down the hall to the heads of HR, IT, R&D or other executives. This is self defeating.

Tip: Make it a formal part of your engagement protocol to form and deepen relationships with client staff across the organization. This will maximize the likelihood that your intervention will be based on a realistic "ground truth."

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client staff  consulting process  customer understanding  engagement management  learning 

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#510: Use the Wisdom of Crowds in Your Consulting

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, February 25, 2011
Updated: Friday, February 25, 2011
My client has asked me to recommend staff for a project development team. There are some staff who everyone says are "perfect" for the team. Given that staff know their colleagues better than I do, how much should I consider these recommendations versus make my own selections?

We are charged with using our judgment in providing client services,. That does not, however, mean we can ignore input from people with information we lack. The issue here is to what extent we should believe an apparent "consensus" on who should be on the team.

It may be an oversimplification of the situation but consider that the collective input of a large number of staff may be more insightful than your careful, singular analysis and selection.

As described by James Surowiecki, in his highly acclaimed book, The Wisdom of Crowds, in many situations, we are better off trusting the collective opinions of the "masses" before the opinions of the experts. This is true even if the crowd does not know all the relevant facts; as long as they bring a diversity of opinions and perspectives, any errors they bring will tend to offset each other. Be aware that it is easy to fall into the trap (called "information cascade") where you assume people know more than they do and that your opinion is .You are still responsible for making the final team selection.

This does not imply that crowds are always right, just that they are best for addressing certain kinds of problems. Consultants, as experts, occupy a special position between crowds (who are best at unstructured problems) and expert systems (which are best addressing structured, rule based problems).

Tip: Read Surowiecki's book to get important insights into how to use surveys, large groups and "collective intelligence" to supplement your expertise. Like The Black Swan, The Long Tail, The Tipping Point, these social theories are powerful adjuncts to consulting skills in providing effective advice to client organizations.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client staff  consulting colleagues  innovation  management theory  teaming 

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#509: Use Your Slow Times Effectively

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, February 24, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 24, 2011
Two new clients delayed the kickoff of engagements, so I have some down time. Where is the best use of time - marketing, administration, product development or even taking some time off?

There should never be unplanned "down time" in your practice. Sure, projects sometimes get delayed, but you should have a plan to use that time efficiently and not let it go to waste.

First, your attitude toward time is critical. Consider "found time" as precious. There is never enough time to do all the things we want, whether it is time with family, business, community, sleep or reading. Treat found time like a gift and spend it doing something positive to grow yourself or your business. Avoid consuming it doing "more" of what you are already doing. If you won $1000, would you divide it proportionally among all the things you now spend money on or would you put the whole $1000 toward a special investment or expenditure? Treat time the same way.

Second, always know how you would spend that marginal hour of time. You may already know where your time most effectively puts you on the path to achieving your business and life goals. What would a little more time do for you?

Tip: Make a list of things you could do with a few hours, a day, and a week. Update the list throughout the year as your needs and priorities change. This is a good exercise to keep you focused on balancing your business and personal life. If you have a week and your priority is to spend it all in one place, what does this say about how much time you are spending in other areas of your life?

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  planning  practice management  your consulting practice 

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#508: Promoting Your Content at Conferences

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I am attending a conference soon and want to be able to promote my blog, book and white papers. How can I do this if I am not on the agenda and don't have an "in" at the event?

Conferences are generally oriented toward professional development and the only ones who are supposed to shamelessly promote their products are the exhibitors. However, this does not mean you can't help educate and enlighten conference attendees with your content. There are a couple of ways you can respect the conference organizers and attendees and still meet your own needs.

First, be sure the content you want to promote is consistent with the theme of the conference. This is what the attendees are there to learn and your material should at least add to the body of knowledge. If your book or research does not advance the state of the art, promoting your content will damage your reputation - the opposite of what you intended. Second, design a few innovative ways to get your material in front of attendees. Since you aren't part of the program, consider handing out postcards with a description of the content and significance of your book, including a picture of the cover to strengthen your brand. Post a note (if allowed) on the conference bulletin board describing how people can get copies of your white papers. Talk to presenters with similar content to see if they will mention your work or even hand out your work with their own.

Tip: Your goal is to create the impression in the mind of attendees that your material is the "secret" that didn't make it onto the conference agenda. They should consider it a bonus and feel like they are getting additional value. Remember, always work with the conference organizers to make sure your activities are appropriate

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  professional development  publicity  sales 

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#507: Make it Easy for Clients to Find You

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I am always amazed by consultants who deliver a memorable talk but sometime later, when I want to ask a follow up question or refer them to a client, I can't find their contact information. It got me to wondering how visible I am to audiences I speak to.

A cardinal rule of sales is to make it easy to buy. This means, at a minimum, making sure every prospect has your contact information. It is amazing how many presentations have no contact info on individual slides or on a page at the beginning or end. Your name, company name, email and phone number should be on every piece of literature, presentation, card, report, disk, and brochure you produce. If possible, add a very brief description of what you provide to a prospect, to trigger their memory of who you are. I regularly come across business presentations years later with no contact information or a business card with no indication of the person's expertise.

This does not mean your documents should look like a NASCAR vehicle, but it does mean anyone can find you to discuss any piece of data, speech, research or advice you produce. Make a plan to assure that each marketing piece and work product has your contact information. For example, develop a template for your presentations that has your website in the footer, and a closing page with contact and brief biographical info.

Tip: Make a list of ten ways you can get something of value into the hands of prospects (e.g., speech, white paper, article, referral, research report, business suggestion) and make sure you have a way to include your contact info on each one. Some are harder than others. For example, when you send a copy of that interesting newspaper article to a client, did you remember to (subtly) include your name on the article?

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  contact information  marketing  publicity 

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