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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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#957: The Dry Run

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, January 5, 2009
As experienced a consultant as I am, I am occasionally surprised at how often I have to "relearn" things I used to do but had let lapse. That's one reason I like your Tips. One practice I have gotten back into is doing dry runs for client briefings. I highly recommend them.

It's hard to disagree with either point: that we constantly need to be on the lookout for practices we have forgotten or let get stale, and that practice is a good idea. Both points are tied to a commitment to life-long learning. It is easy for some of us to feel so busy that we don't have time for these critical practices. But it only takes one time being not as prepared as we thought we were to make us realize that we need to keep dry runs on our client briefing checklist (and, if you don't have a list of items to make sure you have or do before each client briefing, you should).

The dry run serves three purposes. First, it is a check on timing of a presentation. You'd rather not realize an hour into your two-hour presentation that you are only one-fourth done. Second, you'll always want to practice under conditions similar to those you will experience during the actual event. Having to project in an auditorium or move around a training room is a different experience than a read through at your desk. Third, having it recorded means you can listen to see how it sounds, albeit not entirely objectively. Even better is doing your dry run in front of another person who will provide constructive feedback.

Tip: The origin of the concept of a "dry run" was to simulate what would actually take place in a critical event, but under controlled test conditions, used first for trial runs of fire departments (without water in the hoses, hence "dry"). Plan to give your presentation, training, briefing or speech in an environment as similar to the one you will be speaking at as possible. Plan the scope, sequence and content to adhere to the client's needs and have a colleague or two critique it. As much as you think you know the material, you can't be sure until you do a dry run.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  planning  practice management  process 

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#942: The Follow Up Call

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, December 15, 2008
Updated: Monday, December 15, 2008
I am building a prospect pipeline with a contact application and have prepared for a series of networking events to attend to kick off my initial contacts. Other than capturing the names and relevant information from people I met and consider potential leads, what else do I need?

You are off to a good start. Capturing leads in a formal way, whether it is on a ruled sheet of paper or in a software contact manager, is essential to managing a prospect pipeline. A box of scraps of paper and business cards as a strategy for getting clients is looking for trouble. Let's not get into how the contacts make it into your list, but the critical next step after first contact: the follow up call.

Following up means doing it before the memory fades (yours and theirs) and doing it in a way that leads to a higher probability of a good business relationship. Once you have identified a person who is marginally qualified, you should follow up to set a time to discuss a mutual business relationship. This is your chance to decide whether and how you commit valuable time to pursue the relationship or you will drop them in the "cool" (as in not worth pursuing right now) contact list.

Tip: The follow up call should be done within 3-5 days, preferably the next business day. You should have a follow up call script that includes a reiteration of the circumstances that brought you together, the premise of why your two businesses might productively work together, your interpretation of pressing needs of the other person (and questions you could ask to verify), an example of work you have done that relates to this need, an offer of a contact or piece of information of value to the other person (goodwill), a possible working relationship you could mutually benefit from, and suggested next steps to move toward a working relationship. Preparation and some forethought, along with not letting the prospect get cold, are the keys to turning a business card stuffed onto your pocket into a live prospect.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  contact information  goodwill  marketing  process  prospect 

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#934: Developing Ground Rules for Facilitated Sessions

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Updated: Friday, December 5, 2008
Although I am an experienced consultant, I am just getting started facilitating. I have tried to set ground rules but I am not sure that these are working well, since some sessions are not going well because of bad participant behaviors.

I presume you are asking about how to best manage a facilitated session using ground rules. It is important to have a set of well considered ground rules for a session. These rules should address behaviors that will encourage productive behaviors and discourage disruptive behaviors. Your goal as a facilitator is not to prevent participants from expressing themselves (or force reluctant ones to express themselves) but to ensure that their behaviors do not suppress or unduly influence the contributions of others.

There are two schools of thought on developing ground rules. First, you can do what you have done and you develop them in advance and impose them on the group. This could be done jointly with your client or you can do them by yourself. If you understand the nature of the group and have been briefed about specific individuals who may need encouragement or restraint, this usually works, especially for an experienced facilitator.

Second, you could develop ground rules with the participants of the facilitated group at the beginning of the session. This has the advantage of letting the group own the rules. You may also find out about behaviors that would benefit from moderation that you might not have known about if you developed rules in isolation.

Tip: The purpose of ground rules is to facilitate productive discussion and effective behaviors toward the purpose of the session. Instead of just pulling the sheet of paper with ground rules from you last session and stapling it to your new agenda, consider ground rules a part of your technology. Keep a notebook of ground rules, annotated after each session. describe whether rules were followed (and if you really enforced them), whether they were effective, why you selected the rule and how you came to describe them to the group. You may well collect a broad suite of ground rules that you select from as a function of the kinds of group you are facilitating.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  facilitation  process 

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