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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 

#119: Managing the Consultant's Social Networking Image

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, August 27, 2009
I know that employers now examine a candidate's Facebook page to glean insights into their character. Do you think clients do the same for consultants they are considering retaining?

I am not aware of this happening but if I were researching consultants, I would look up their LinkedIn page first, then Facebook, then one or two others, depending on the industry or disciplinary focus. If I were the CEO of a nonprofit, I might look to see if they had a presence on Care2, or one of the newer business sites (e.g., Ziggs, Ecademy, or Focus).

These social networking sites are increasingly important because they are more regularly indexed by search engines (because of the constant addition of content) than most consultants' websites. So, when a client looks for "Pat Jones consultant supply chain security," they are increasingly likely to come across you in a social media site before your own website.

Tip: This is not just making sure your personal and company profiles are current and accurate. We've heard stories about job offers to recent college grads being rescinded after an employer saw their Facebook page, so we don't need to talk about profile content. However, of more interest to clients may be the dialog and ideas you provide in discussion forums. Your knowledge and perspective (and communication skills) are why your client presumably wants your services. Being part of the discussion in your discipline or industry can build your reputation, but flaming people or offering uninformed or poorly communicated posts can cause a client to have second thoughts.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand management  communication  marketing  networks  professionalism  prospect  publicity 

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#105: Have Business Cards Passed Their Expiration Date

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, August 6, 2009
I used to use a lot of business cards but not lately. Are business cards still useful?

The business card custom started a long time ago and were used in a very different way than they are used today. What we now call business cards started as "tradecards" in early 17th century England. Because there were few newspapers or public advertising, these tradecards often contained a map or directions to a merchant's place of business. Two things changed over the centuries. First, the number of businesses multiplied into the millions, with each merchant having their own cards. Second, the use of the cards expanded into social arenas and were termed "calling cards." In this case, cards were handed out to those one visited as well as would be given to someone to whom you want to be introduced. Eventually, everyone seemed to have business cards and used them liberally.

Only you can determine whether business cards create value for your business, but I see drastically lower use than even a decade ago. Part of the reason is the availability of business information through search on the Internet. Also, the "networking mixer," although still conducted, is less popular than a decade ago, resulting in fewer pocketfuls of business cards than a decade ago. Instead of handing someone a business card, you can even beam your contact information from your phone.

Tip: One practice that can increase the value of your business card is to include more than just your contact information. After a business trip, conference or large meeting, how likely are you to remember the details of each person whose card you now have? Use the reverse side of the card to list your services, explain your brand, or make a specific call to action. This will make it more likely that the recipient of your card will both remember and act on the card in the way you intended.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  marketing  publicity  sales 

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#79: Pro Bono Work

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, June 25, 2009
Updated: Friday, June 26, 2009
Every consulting marketing guide and author says pro bono work is a great way to build your network and your business. Every hour I spend doing "volunteer" work is one less billable hour. What am I missing?

In a word, lots. Your value as a consultant comes from a combination of skills, experience, and behaviors. Your success as a consulting firm comes from the combination of your network of contacts and an efficient business enterprise. Pro bono work, done well, is a home run in developing all of these bases of consulting success. If you see an hour of unbilled work as a cost rather than an investment, you will miss opportunities you may not be able to get even through billed work.

A pro bono engagement is a different type of service for a different type recipient in a different type of relationships than with paid clients. Your work is donated because you believe in the intrinsic value of an organization, whether it is for a social cause, your community or an affinity group. You and your "client" can get very close and the value of your skills is usually more appreciated than in a work for hire relationships. Pro bono work rounds out your skills, extends your relationships, brings you int a new area where your skills are used, and does fulfill a need for you to lend your skills to build your community.

Tip: Don't wait to be asked to help in your community. There are plenty of hours that you do not bill in which you could donate a few hours a week or month. Pick 2-3 charitable organizations of interest. Contact the chief executive and say you have skills in marketing, planning, leadership development, fundraising, staffing, or whatever you want to contribute. Ask how you might contribute these skills (or, if you are willing to stuff envelopes, you can do so) for the betterment of the organization. When you propose specific, high value skills like these, you will get a grateful reception and enter a whole new world of possibilities.

P.S. IMC chapters often sponsor community service projects, in which a team of members work with a nonprofit board or executive team to build capacity or on a specific project. Contact your chapter president to suggest a project or join a team (another place you can build your consulting network).

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  community service  customer understanding  goodwill  marketing  professionalism  publicity 

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#57: Getting Visibility for Your Blog or Content

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The blogosphere is getting crowded and I'm at a loss of where else to promote my website, blog or written material.

There is probably no one "best" target for getting your message out, since it depends on the industry, what type of information you are promoting, and the type of response you are seeking. I do have a tip for you, however, on one approach to setting up a comprehensive strategy for any specific type of content. Draw up a schematic on how your target audience gets its information and what ways you are most comfortable in sending it out. This may seem overly simplistic but it quickly gets complex as you realize how many possible vectors there are (website, blog, audio or video, webinars, Twitter, social networking, disciplinary or industry forums, online affinity groups, etc.). Start crossing off the routes that you consider ineffective or methods you prefer not to engage in. Eventually, you will come up with a "best" strategy for you, for the reaction you want and for the current time.

The graphical exercise is important and one that many consultants will refuse to do, considering it easier to do a list. But forcing yourself to think through the spatial representation of the universe of possible routes to get noticed is the key to this exercise. You may have to test the routes you have selected to see if they indeed get you the response you expect, but you will have a graphic that will allow you to see your options.

Tip: Use compilations of publicity and networking lists to help you get started. As you go through these suggestions, place them on your schematic in a way that is most understandable to you. Build the consulting practice universe that works for you.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  blogs  communication  publicity  website 

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#56: Low Budget, High Effectiveness Visibility

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, May 25, 2009
What are some moderately priced ways for consultants to increase visibility and connect with customers?

Slow markets are exactly the time to step up your marketing efforts. Customers want more information about what kind of services and skills you have than in the past. A list of past clients, and services offered don't seem to differentiate you enough. Given that list and description of your "approach" to providing services is "what you do," it is critical that you find a way to help customers understand "who you are."

You know the long-standing methods: advertising, membership in networking groups, attending conferences, etc. These don't give a prospect much insight into who you are. You've also heard of high-tech approaches that some praise as the "wave of the future": airline radio, teaching, YouTube videos, CD by mail. What has become increasingly clear, however, is that some of these methods are questionable as to their effectiveness in today's business culture. Much of the problem with these is that they are too fixed in how they present your qualifications.

Tip: Customers look for someone with insight into their emerging problems. Show them how you think, not just what you do. This puts a premium on regular blogging, public speaking, workshops on current topics in the industry, vidlogging (video blogging) giving your ideas about trends in the market, and writing white papers. With these approaches, you can refresh your content and respond quickly to current events. Pick a format that fits with your capabilities and keep up with it.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  customer understanding  marketing  publicity 

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