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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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#491: Consultants Still Server Clients Regardless of Team Size

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, January 31, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Some people have described being a consultant as a "lonely" profession due to the independent nature of the work,. Even if you work for a large consulting firm, you may still be one-on-one with a client or working with only a small team.

Consultants are brought in to help an organization. We sometimes work solo, but more often than not we become part of a team. As such it behooves us to learn more about effectively working in a team environment. A number of skills are required, such as effective listening, facilitation, persuasion, group problem-solving, consensus-building, communication, etc. With some focus and effort, these skills can be developed and sharpened.

Tip: To be truly effective we must master the principles of teamwork and leadership. Both are roles we assume at different times and with different clients and projects. Check out The Team Handbook by Scholtes, Joiner, Streibel et. al. for more information on working in teams.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client service  collaboration  consulting lifestyle  consulting process  engagement management  your consulting practice 

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#490: Being Efficient With Your Conference Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, January 28, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I go to the four conferences annually in the related fields I serve. I attend the sessions, but mostly I am there to network, meet prospects, and find out what's new in each field. Each conference lasts the better part of a work week (when you include travel). That equates to a month's worth of commitment each year for me. Do you have any ideas how I can handle this more efficiently?

Here are some ideas:
  1. Spend less time at the conference. Pick the one day you want most, making it a day when there is not a major evening activity.
  2. On nights when there are no scheduled evening activities, why not try to pre-arrange a dinner meeting with a potential prospect or colleague. Use your time productively and connect in advance with other attendees to get together for breakfast or during breaks.
  3. Get a suite and set up a temporary office. Invite prospects (in advance of the conference) to attend individual meetings. In addition, you can easily get other work done during the rest of the time you are there. Result: You don't miss a beat. Simply attend the sessions and events you want and treat the rest of the time like a normal work week.
Tip: Don't get tricked into following the schedule or priorities laid out by conference organizers. This "suggested schedule" is designed to engage you in as many offerings as possible, not necessarily what you need. Sometimes you need to perform a quick "cost-benefit" analysis when deciding whether or not you even need to physically attend a particular conference. Look carefully at the actual agenda, length, and cost carefully when making your decision and try to "quantify" the benefit of actually being there. As an alternative, many conferences do offer lower cost methods to obtaining the critical conference content (such as DVD, CD's, etc.).

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  efficiency  learning  practice management  travel 

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#489: Keep an Eye On Managing Your Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, January 27, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Although independent consultants often have the benefit of a flexible work schedule, many fail to take advantage of this flexibility.

Here are some suggestions for leveraging the benefits of a flexible work schedule:
  1. If you do not work at home, avoid the wasted time sitting in traffic traveling to your office during morning and evening peak traffic times. Travel to the office before or after "rush hour."
  2. Rearrange your time and days so that you have set aside a block of quiet time for organizing, thinking, planning and writing. This could be early mornings, late evenings, or weekends. Quiet time (or time where you are disconnected from the world temporarily) can be the most productive time for many critical tasks.
  3. Be creative with your scheduling so that you can provide for more than enough time to take care of your health and well-being.
  4. You might even consider adopting a truly alternative work schedule (e.g., 4 day work week, starting a few hours earlier each day Monday through Thursday and then taking Fridays off!)
Tip: Don't be unnecessarily trapped by the pressure of a constraining work schedule if you don't have to. If you maximize your efficiency and get a little creative with your schedule, you might find yourself enjoying your work and life more.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting process  efficiency  planning  practice management  your consulting practice 

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#488: How to Approach Slowing Down

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I am not quite ready to retire, but I'd certainly like to slow up and take more time off for other activities. I am finding this difficult - my clients need me at unpredictable times and I continue to be always on the go. Do you have any suggestions for slowing up without retiring?

Effectively setting expectations with your clients is critical in achieving this. Here are two suggestions:
  1. Determine specifically what you want your new slower lifestyle to look like. Are you looking to take summers off? Specific days off? Do you want to scale back to working half days? After you have determined what your new work arrangements will look like, focus on communicating it to your clients. Make your new work schedule a "known" with new clients. Sit down with your existing clients and let them know of your plans, when they will be implemented and the expected impact on them, if any (reduced fee, etc.).
  2. Consider bringing in assistance in the form of a junior or senior associate. You might even be able to farm out some of the work to other trusted colleagues. Although this might represent a significant change in your basic business model (and will almost certainly introduce some new financial and business complexities), it might well provide you with the elusive answer you have been seeking to reduce your workload without permanently eroding your existing client base.

Tip: Consciously slowing down can be challenging and should be carefully executed. Have a plan and a timetable. Communicate your plans clearly to your clients and prospects.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting lifestyle  work-life balance  your consulting practice 

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#487: Where is Innovation in Your Practice Coming From?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I know that my consulting practice should be changing as fast as the businesses of my clients. I just don't have time to create new lines of service. Any ideas how to put a little more innovation into my practice?

Good question, and one many consultants don't ask themselves. Whether you call it staying fresh, ahead of the curve, or innovative, consultants must constantly create new value. Let's talk about how.

Your source of innovation should come first from your clients. They are either in need of new services or are actually asking you for additional services. Be attentive to their needs and discuss possible new services with them. Challenges for one client are likely similar to current or imminent challenges for other clients.

The second source of innovation is from your colleagues and from consulting conferences. Members of your network are providing services that, with a few adaptations, could add to your own. Find a collection of consultants with diverse practices who discuss trends in consulting and are also looking to innovate. Conferences like IMC's Confab are great places to meet with senior consultants with whom you can develop new areas of interest and potentially team.

Tip: However you decide to innovate, do it through a steady process, whether you develop new areas of practice or are tweaking current ones. Take one of your primary services and spend a month improving it. Find a more effective way to describe your service to prospective and current clients (this might give you some ideas about what areas of value might be missing). Ask colleagues for examples of how they provide similar services. Finally, ask your clients how you could improve your service. Work on innovation, don't just wait for it to happen.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  innovation  knowledge management  trends 

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