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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 

#645: The Rising Value of Consulting Conferences

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, September 2, 2011
Updated: Friday, September 2, 2011
Having been to a few consulting conferences over the years, I was never a big fan. However, The Consulting Summit and Confab have gotten good reaction lately. Is there any reason to take a few days to go to these and what will I get out of them?

There are different conferences for different people and needs. The Consulting Summit, run by Kennedy Information's Consulting Magazine, is a one-day event focused generally on macro issues of the business and consulting market. The next one is being held in New York City on November 9, 2011. If you manage a larger firm, the people you can network with and the topics covered are appropriate for you. The Summit has been a great place to catch up with leaders of large firms and renew relationships.

Confab, run by IMC USA as its annual conference, is a 2-3 day event focused on client service, marketing and practice management issues. This year's conference will be held in Reno, NV on October 22-24, 2011. If you run a mid-sized or smaller firm and your focus is on new concepts in consulting practice, enhanced marketing and improving point of delivery skills, then Confab is for you. With the changes in client use of consultants, Confab is a great way to jump start new lines of business, to meet other executive level consultants from whom you can learn about new markets and new consulting techniques...

Tip: Some consultants consider conferences are beneath them. However, when markets change like they have in the past two years, don't let pride get in the way of learning why some of your business is about to decline or where some traditional consulting practices are falling out of favor. Consultants who attend conferences are those who can see changes in the marketplace and are always developing new services and meeting people with whom they can develop new business. These are the people you want to spend time with to invigorate your consulting practice

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  conference  learning  market research  networks  planning  practice management  product development  professional development  referrals  trends 

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#621: Help Your Clients Connect With Influencers

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, August 1, 2011
Updated: Monday, August 1, 2011
Clients often ask us to spend much of our time improving people, processes and technology inside an organization. Are there ways we can complement these services other than just to provide inside, technical services?

The value of consultants to clients is to improve the client's condition. Just because you were retained to provide technical advice on one specific issue doesn't mean you can't use capabilities that extend beyond just the immediate challenge. This is not an unethical promotion of your services or trolling for more work. It is being a competent and mindful advisor.

One area often overlooked by consultants is to introduce their clients to influential people and organizations in the consultant's own network. We all know people and organizations (in the public, private and nonprofit sectors) whose knowledge, activities or assets might be of use to our clients. Perhaps we know someone who is introducing a new product our client might use. Maybe a government agency is selling off assets our client would be interested in buying. Or our client needs expertise on staff and we might know of appropriate individuals considering a career move. Even if an introduction of your client to one of your influential colleagues might not be part of the scope of your engagement, it could prove to be among the most useful services you can provide.

Tip: Make an active effort, regardless of your engagement scope, for opportunities to connect your clients, and this includes client staff, to influencers you know. As with any introduction between individuals, be mindful of any ethical or conflict of interest conditions raised by such an introduction.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  consultant role  customer understanding  referrals 

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#545: Keep Your Referral Pipeline Full

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, April 15, 2011
Updated: Friday, April 15, 2011
Competition among consultants makes new clients harder to come by these days and companies seem to take longer to hire consultants. How can I hear about opportunities as soon as possible?

Learning about potential engagements early means having someone "on the inside" looking out for you. If this isn't someone who actually works for a prospect's organization, it means having people who know the organization well - and know what you could do for them. We are talking about referrers.

First of all, let's talk about what referrers are and what they are not. They are not limited to people you approach at networking events and ask for referrals. These contacts rarely know you well enough to make effective referrals.

Instead, look for people who understand the role of a management consultant and would be able to describe both you and the value of the services you provide. We hear about how you should develop a broad list of potential referrers, such as your mail carrier, dentist, and college roommate. This may work for the best known and common professions but this approach is less effective for management consultants.

A complete referral strategy is more involved than this tip can explain but I suggest you identify a dozen people you are confident understand what you do and the value of your services. Next, provide them with a list of about a dozen target companies for which you would like provide your services and (this is important) for each company, include a short description of what service you might provide and what value each services would provide. A sentence or two for each company is about right.

Tip: The value of this exercise is two-fold, but only if you actually complete it. First, writing it down helps you focus on specific targets, services and value you might provide. Second, it puts you on record with an explicit list of referrers, with whom you should check in regularly. Once you have this list under control, meaning that people on your list are really looking out for you, consider making separate lists for different aspects of your practice.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  networks  proposals  referrals  sales 

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#474: Give Referrals With Adequate Qualification

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, January 6, 2011
Updated: Thursday, January 6, 2011
I am always hesitant to refer another consultant. What if they don't perform well? I feel it can hurt my reputation.

Consider a referral as important as any recommendation to a client of strategy, process or other improvement based on your professional judgment. Don't consider it a "throwaway" recommendation for which the client should take all the risk (i.e., "After all, I just gave them her name. It is up to them to vet her before hiring her.").

Also, before you provide names of consultants, be sure you understand how well you do know them and how well you understand the risk you are assuming, as well as imposing on your client. Just because you know someone socially (even if it is for 20 years) doesn’t mean you can vouch for their professional capabilities in a consulting engagement setting.

Tip: Be clear how well you know the referral and explain what you know and don;'t know about them. It may still be useful to say to a client that you have never worked with this person you are referring but they have an excellent reputation with people you do know and trust and yo have known the referral for 20 years and regard his or her highly professional and ethical. If you really don't know that much about the person, say so and decline to make a referral.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  consulting colleagues  ethics  networks  referrals  reputation 

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#448: Sometimes You Just Have to Ask

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Several of my colleagues get business - a lot of business - through referrals. This isn't my situation at all. Maybe I'll get one or two referrals a year but these rarely turn into business. What's the secret?

A referral is a testimonial by someone who sees value in what you have to offer. But this doesn't happen without some intervention on your part. Four things must happen to get great referrals. The referrer must (1) recognize specific value in what you have to offer, (2) know that a referral is of value to you, (3) know to whom they should make a referral, and (4) have a reason to make the referral.

First, be clear what you want them to value. They hired you for a reason but you might want referrals in another area. Tell them specifically what skills and behaviors you want them to tell others about. They will know of a lot more potential work using servicces other than what you provided them.

Second, clients are not mind readers. Your relationship is based on you helping them, not the other way around. Tell them you'd appreciate a referral. Most will be happy to do it if you just asked. Delivering exceptional value can't hurt their desire to look a bit harder to find you a referral.

Third, make a list of specific people or types of people for whom you'd like a referral. This may or may not be the same as your "ideal cllient" but is likely close. Don't make your clients work hard to create referrals on your behalf. Better that they look at a list you've given them and think of people to whom they could make a referral that you didn't even know existed.

Tip: Finally, Make it worth their while. Why would they take time and risk their reputation? Because you can provide a client's colleagues with the same value you provided them. Just like you are more than willing to recommend a great restaurant, create a desire in your client to make the referral on your behalf.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  recommendations  referrals 

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