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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 

#575: Consultants Need to Upgrade Their Tech or Go Home

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, May 27, 2011
Updated: Friday, May 27, 2011
My clients are traditional types, working in a traditional industry, and I provide consulting services consistent with their style. However, I feel like I should be working with the latest technologies and procedures. Is that necessary if my clients don't need it?

There are two perspectives to your concern. First, good consultants communicate with and provide services to their clients in the way that is most effective. You work in the environment and in ways that works best for them. Second, your life-long learning, professional development plan should leave you aware of and proficient in (close to) the latest technologies. Your ability to both attract new clients and better serve current clients can depend on taking advantage of every diagnostic, communication and analysis technology available.

Tip: Our clients expect us to advise them of new, if not best, practices that could benefit their organizations. Talk to your consulting colleagues, especially those not in traditional industries, to learn of new approaches to doing research, compiling data, assessing operations, mapping processes, communicating, etc. This is not to suggest that you need to be vigorously engaged in multiple social media applications. You don't have to use every new technology, just be aware of them.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  communication  consulting colleagues  consulting skills  knowledge assets  learning  professional development  professionalism  your consulting practice 

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#569: Take the Opportunity to Chair at a Conference

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, May 19, 2011
Updated: Thursday, May 19, 2011
I was asked to serve as a chair at a conference. Even though I know this will give me exposure and help me develop skills I might not get elsewhere, it is a commitment of time. Is this a worthwhile activity?

Absolutely. Conferences are one of several ways to prove to your colleagues and clients that you are a professional consultant. Like most industries or professional disciplines, consulting moves fast enough that you (and clients) can quickly tell who is keeping up with the latest developments and who isn't.

Thinking that conferences aren't useful because they "take time away" from delivering services or developing new business is like assuming the same thing about sleeping. Conferences are a place to pick up best practices, meet other consultants, test new ideas and develop business. They are an efficent way to do all four of these necessary activities.

Take the opportunity to participate in conference planning and operations. It provides incredible visibility and access to other professionals. Demonstratef competence helping to run a conference positions you as a trusted and capable consultant that others think of when it is time to pick business partners because they have seen you in action. This is not just for consultants "starting out" but is also valuable for senior consultants. Make sure, though, that you actively manage and maintain those relations after the conference.

Tip: IMC USA's annual conference Confab is one of the best conferences for visibility. For over 30 years, Confab has been the largest conference for consultants and by consultants in the US, and a continuing source of business for professional consultants who stay involved. There are still opportunities to be a part of the conference team.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  conference  consulting colleagues  consulting skills  education  goodwill  learning  networks  professional development  reputation  speaking 

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#560: How to Know You're Beginning to Master Your Profession

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, May 6, 2011
Updated: Friday, May 6, 2011
If business and management are constantly changing and consultants are expected to keep up with or get ahead of these changes, how do we know when we have "mastered our craft"?

I am not sure we ever master our craft, whether the industry we consult to or the disciplines we use to provide client services. That doesn't mean we shouldn't learn as much as we can about business, management and consulting. However, there are two clues that indicate we might be getting close.

First is the frequency with which your professional colleagues seek you out for advice. Do your colleagues come to you (not just once, but second and third times) asking your opinion about how to evaluate a situation or recommend a course of action? Do they ask you for your judgment and benefit of your experience? Do they refer to you as "the person who knows about these things?" If so, then your knowledge and experience have reached a level of peer acceptance.

Second is when you can read the latest business book relating to your discipline or industry and, based on experience and a solid understanding of underlying theory, react confidently to assertions it makes with "Yes, no, no, no, that's interesting, no, yes, NO!, only in certain circumstances, etc." This does not mean your reactions are based on unfounded opinions but are made with a full understanding of how the systems and concepts you read about work.

Tip: A commitment to management consulting is also a commitment to lifelong learning. Although we never master the profession, we can seek the affirmation of our peers and the confidence to critically evaluate best practices as indicators we are improving.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  change  consulting skills  education  intellectual property  knowledge assets  learning  performance improvement  professional development  professionalism  teaching/training  your consulting practice 

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#559: Beware of the Duct Tape Consultant

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, May 5, 2011
Updated: Thursday, May 5, 2011
As consultants we advise our clients to develop streamlined, repeatable processes where possible. As consultants, we pride ourselves on providing customized solutions for each of our client needs. Isn't this a bit hypocritical?

Well, that's a loaded question, but you do have a point worth exploring. First, recommending streamlining of a process makes sense if it provides the outputs and outcomes a client wants for their process or service at the appropriate efficiency and cost. There is nothing wrong with developing efficient, repeatable processes if this is what is needed.

Alternatively, customized solutions are appropriate where there is a highly variable environment, a high degree of freedom in the solution, and limited rules governing the conditions under which you can develop the solution. There is a continuum between a totally customized solution (assuming the client judges it worthy of time and budget) and a cut and paste solution resurrected from one of your prior clients. Every consultant owes every client the respect of thoroughly evaluating needs and presenting alternative approaches to solve the problem at hand.

What clients don't deserve is a "duct tape" solution. Duct tape is strong, flexible, durable, and can be applied in endless ways to "solve" almost any problem. There are consultants who have a few limited tools that meet these characteristics and propose to use them for almost every problem. Like duct tape, the reason they don't solve the problem at hand is because you didn't use enough of it. If a client isn't satisfied, there are always more assessments, more interviews, more process models, more PowerPoint, more pilot studies, more benchmarking, etc. The solution is rarely satisfying in the end.

Tip: Consultants should have processes they can reuse but they need to be grounded in business and management theory and proven to work in various cultures and business conditions. Don't get a reputation of being a "duct tape" consultant who doesn't have the range of tools and experience to provide competent and appropriate solutions.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  consulting process  consulting skills  consulting tools  engagement management  performance improvement  professionalism  reputation  your consulting practice 

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#532: Principles of a Personally Intelligent Consultant

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Clients are pretty clear about wanting specific technical skills and "soft" skills in their consultants. Beyond those "requested" attributes, what else should I focus on for my own development and growth?

Often our clients are judged not only by intellect, training or expertise but also by how well they manage themselves and how well they deal with other people. Personal Intelligence is increasingly important in the success of our clients as well as our own success and satisfaction as consultants.

Kenton Hill, Ed. D., CMC, offers a set of personal intelligence principles as standards to develop personal intelligence, and guide him in his work to recognize, understand, value and apply emotions effectively in his consulting practice.

SELF-AWARENESS: I must be confident in knowing who I am and understanding the impact of my strengths and weaknesses before I can truly be of service to others.

SELF-REGULATION: I have a responsibility to manage my own feelings, thoughts, and actions in a positive way that maintains a genuine high standard of personal integrity.

SELF-MOTIVATION: I have an obligation to develop continuously and apply consistently my personal resources to the ever-changing, increasing demands of my profession.

SOCIAL AWARENESS: I must seek to know, understand, and be sensitive to the feelings, needs, and concerns of all of my constituents, especially those of the people I serve.

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING: I bear the greater responsibility for establishing, nurturing, and where necessary, resolving differences in my interpersonal relationships with colleagues and with the people I serve.

INTERPERSONAL INFLUENCE: I have an obligation to foster desirable responses in others by modeling as well as challenging, inspiring, enabling, and encouraging everyone to work together toward shared goals.

Tip: While sometimes a challenge to successfully apply, these principles are helpful reminders as you strive to provide high quality, professional consulting services to your clients. They were adapted from Smart Isn't Enough: Lessons From A Work Performance Coach, (Xlibris, 2007) by Kenton R. Hill Ed.D., CMC. (www.KenHillKRH.com).

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting skills  guidance  learning  professional development  professionalism  values 

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