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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 

#465: Social Media Can be Anything You Can Create

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, December 24, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 24, 2010
I am not a technological Luddite but I can't see how all this social media is useful for business. Beyond "having" a presence (website, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, Ning site, blog(s), Twitter, and syndication), it seems a colossal commitment of time that could be used to create product or deliver services.

Is social media useful for your own practice or your client's business? As any consultant can tell you, "it depends." Despite Pew Research findings that only 27% of US Internet users bother to read blogs, even back in 2008 we were still adding new blogs at a rate of 40,000 a day. Venture capital firms invested $60 million that year for startup blogging companies. Apparently blogging has enough value to attract capital. Finally, Twitter is berated by many as a waste of time, but Dell attributes more than $6.5 million of revenue last year from their Twitter presence (and that was more or less unintentional).

What is often missing in the "What Good is Social Media?" discussion is how it is being used. These technologies don't exist as add-ons - they are genuinely creating new ways to communicate in speed, content, interactivity, and functionality. But "being in social media" is of no value unless you are using it to further your current business goals. For example, a LinkedIn profile only has value as a reference point for your participation in (or starting and moderating) LinkedIn Groups. Setting up your own Ning social network is only as valuable as the community you create and maintain.

Tip: A great example of how digital media could transform our interaction is to look at a YouTube video of the "Digital Nativity" (easier if you know the Christian references to the story, but you can get the point even without them). There is "old school" ways of doing things and "really, really new school" ways. The market demands more than just good consulting services. It (legitimately or not) sees your engagement with the social and business community as evidence of your value and the transparency it affords as a measure of trust. Social media, done well, is one way to create that presence and trust.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  collaboration  communication  marketing  social media  technology  trust  website 

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#397: Create the Right Environment to Create Great Ideas

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Why do some consultants seem to have an endless stream of new ideas and others (most of us) create only interesting, but merely incremental, ideas for new services or products?

Two things make the difference: where ideas come from and how they turn into something tangible. First, eurekas, epiphanies, breakthroughs and WOW! moments are created mostly from assembling and reconfiguring existing knowledge. Look at any "management breakthrough" and you will see elements of traditional, and usually widely known, concepts or processes. Despite the common image of the solitary inventor or the firm working on a secret project, discoveries rarely arise from isolated effort. Perhaps more important than effort or intellectual prowess is the role other people play in creation of "our” ideas. Bounce ideas off other people, ask for help and don’t feel like divulging ideas will lead to people stealing them.

The second point is that new concepts don't spring from our heads fully formed. They sometimes take months or years to develop. We have a hunch but not the insight, an insight but not a way to deliver it, an efficient delivery mechanism but not the business case to make it a consulting service. Sharing these ideas, reading and discussing ideas in other disciplines, trying them out in non-business settings can all promote development. Think slow cooking, not microwave. Finally, recognizing that it takes time, don't abandon an idea that you think is going nowhere too quickly.

Steven Johnson has a great short (17 min) video summary of the importance of collaboration.

Tip: Just as Louis Pasteur said that "Chance favors the prepared mind," when it comes to innovation, we could amend that to say that chance favors the connected mind. Make it a habit to (1) keep your not yet developed ideas in play as long as possible, and (2) discuss them with colleagues, especially those who do not necessarily have the same perspective as you do.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  collaboration  consulting colleagues  innovation  product development 

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#346: It's OK to Get Input from Others

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, July 12, 2010
Updated: Monday, July 12, 2010
Although it can often be quicker, more empowering, and (in some cases) even necessary to make a decision without seeking the input or opinion of others, are there really advantages to leveraging additional insight from outside? 

Organizing a solid round of independent and objective critiques can take additional effort and time to coordinate, but there are definite advantages to soliciting the input of others during your decision-making process. Obviously, it can help to surface additional considerations that you might have not thought about. It can leverage a wider-range of experience than you yourself might personally possess. It can tease out some biases you may not be aware of. Sometimes someone else's ideas can stimulate new ideas from you. In addition, if you seek input from members of your client's organization, it can help to provide you with additional support and ownership for the implementation of a particular solution.

Tip: Seeking input from others can actually be interpreted by others as a sign of a consultant's strength and not a weakness. This can make for a more complex process at times, but often the results make the extra effort very worthwhile.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  collaboration  practice management  professionalism 

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#316: Leveraging Your Network

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, May 31, 2010
Updated: Monday, May 31, 2010
In what ways other than serving as a source of referrals can my network(s) benefit me?

Here are nine key ways the members of your network can help you:
  1. As a pool of potential advisory board members for a new venture
  2. As candidates for group of "proof-readers" or providers of cover testimonials for the book you've written
  3. As a focus group for a study or survey you want to conduct
  4. To find investors for raising funds for a new venture
  5. By introducing you to new people in their network (like LinkedIn but more active and personal)
  6. As a source for referrals for new business (assumes you provide them specific written guidance on exactly what you are looking for)
  7. By providing a sounding board for a new concept or a challenging problem
  8. As a source for references and testimonials
  9. By providing friendship as you move through your career (and life in general)
Tip: Cultivating and maintaining your network is an important task and time well spent. Regardless of how altruistic you believe your network is toward you, it's essential that to receive assistance and support from a well-maintained network, you are obligated to reciprocate and always "give back" to your colleagues. As the saying goes about relationships, "you must make deposits before you can expect to make withdrawals."

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  collaboration  consulting colleagues  goodwill  networks 

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#223: Among Friends

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, January 20, 2010
How do you respond to consulting colleagues who, with no prior relevant experience, take on contracts in your area of specialty and then come to you for help? Am I being competitive by not wanting to share my years of education and experience that give me an edge?

It is difficult to see someone with less experience serving a client for whom you presume you could provide better service. There are two responses, either of which might reduce the odds of this happening in the future.

First, determine how the client selected your colleague instead of you. What does your colleague provide, in the client's eyes, that you do not. It may be that you are not known to the client and your colleagues was the only presumably qualified consultant available. In this case, (sort of) shame on you for not having a better market presence, and it is something you can address. On the other hand, consultants usually think they are selling competence, when in fact clients are buying confidence. There are lots of consultants around with enough skills and experience, many with more than enough for the job at hand. It is possible that the client trusts your colleague even without the superior technical expertise you know you have.

Second, decide under what conditions you will help your colleague with your expertise. Treat them like any other client for whom you would devote time. Of course, you can provide 15 minutes of general advice as a friend, but at some point it becomes paid consulting. Just like you could ask a friend who is a doctor about what kind of flu is going around without feeling you are crossing the line, but you wouldn't want to ask them to do a complete physical outside of a in a professional setting.

Tip: Offer to work together for a fee - don't be embarrassed about asking, this is what you do for a living and you invested a lot in the acquisition of that knowledge.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  collaboration  consultant role  consulting colleagues  intellectual property  knowledge assets  teaming 

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