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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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#710: Go Hire Yourself an Intern

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, December 2, 2011
Updated: Friday, December 2, 2011
Serving clients and working to find new ones leave little time for market research and doing some practice development work. I don't want to take on a partner right now, but what about using interns on a part time basis?

Many companies hire interns to supplement their staff. College and graduate students are looking for part time or summer opportunities to get experience in business, and consulting is a great opportunity to see a variety of situations and get some guidance in how business works.

There are some tradeoffs in hiring an intern. While they usually work for little or no salary, they usually have limited experience. This does not mean they do not have technical knowledge (e.g., graduate business students, or marketing students) or some practical skills (e.g., students with significant web design or development expertise). It does mean, however, that they look to you for guidance and your time as a teacher.

How do you find an intern? Ask your consulting colleagues. Check with local colleges and universities. Students looking for part time or summer work notify university career centers of their availability and interests. Contact these career centers with any opportunity you can offer and ask who they might recommend for your needs. Let them know that your needs may be intermittent and to stay on the lookout for There is no cost to call. You might be surprised by what resources are available to you.

Tip: A good intern or series of interns provides you with a good list of possible junior people to hire, or to refer to colleagues, once they become available full time.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  intern  practice management  teaming  your consulting practice 

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#704: Take Care When Recommending Other Consultants to Your Client

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, November 24, 2011
Updated: Thursday, November 24, 2011
I sometimes want to recommend another consultant to my client but feel that it might take away additional opportunities for my consulting business. After all, there is limited money in their budget and only so much time to devote to a consultant. Am I wrong in being concerned about this?

Your feelings are very natural, but think of it this way: you are there to help the client in any way you can. If you believe that recommending another consultant will add value or provide much needed assistance to the client, you can rest assured that you are doing the right thing by making the recommendation. Sound referrals will help build trust and demonstrate your interest in the client's ultimate success even if it does not translate into direct business for you. Here are a few guidelines when recommending someone to your client:
  1. Issue a clear disclaimer so you don't appear to guarantee the performance of the other consultant.
  2. Recommend more than one consultant for the job (if appropriate and possible). Let the client make the choice. This is important to avoid the appearance of a possible conflict of interest where you might be seen as recommending someone with financial or other ties to you.
  3. Let the client do the interviewing and selection.
  4. Try to avoid opportunities for uncomfortable "pairing" if you will be working alongside the other consultant.
  5. Always be supportive and helpful to the other consultant in every way you can.
  6. Don't look for a referral fee from the client.
Tip: Recommend another consultant any time you genuinely feel it will be helpful. Putting the client's needs first is why you are there.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting colleagues  recommendations  referrals  teaming 

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#668: Offset the Economy's Decline at Confab 2011

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2011
This economy worries me. Usually an economic decline provides opportunity for consultants. This time, however, clients are pulling back on most fronts. How can I best use this time to strengthen my skills and business pipeline?

Consultants can always use more time, skills and clients. Our income grows as we use time well, specifically by more efficient marketing, service delivery and practice management. Business moves fast, so consultants who don't constantly learn new skills quickly fall behind in their ability to provide high value to clients. Finally, although we nurture long term relationships, we are always interested in finding new clients who could benefit from our expertise.

Anyone can sit at home and read a business magazine or book but the most effective way to strengthen our practices is to engage with other experienced consultants. We learn more from hearing about emerging markets, new technologies and new client service approaches. Conferences provide a perfect crucible for us to get out of our safe zones, ward off consulting obsolescence, build a national network, and fill our business pipeline. We can't do that from a book or talking to our long term colleagues.

The best conference by consultants and for consultants is Confab 2011, an intense 2 1/2-day conference (October 22-24, 2011) that builds your value and access to clients. Now in its 34th year, Confab is being held at the newly renovated Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, NV. This conference is well known for its unique sense of sharing, where your new colleagues make introductions, sessions bring new marketable skills and your practice expands.

Tip: We can stay home and hope the economy turns around in our favor or take charge and invest in a known business builder. For less than a single day's consulting fees, Confab is a profitable investment to launch, expand or refine your business. Hear what successful consultants who attend year after year say about its value.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  conference  consulting colleagues  consulting skills  consulting tools  innovation  marketing  networks  practice management  professional development  referrals  teaming  trends  your consulting practice 

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#657: Surround Yourself With the Right People

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I have pretty good professional and personal networks. They provide a good way to refer work to others and receive referrals as well. How can I move my network up a notch?

First, be clear (this means writing it down) what you think is the goal of your network(s). People use them in different ways and the "next step" could be different for each network objective.

Objectives could include referral targets, useful to you because companies will come to you because you can always find the right consultant (if it isn't you). A network can also provide you leads, assuming you are clear about what type of leads you seek and those in your network are clear about your needs. There is also a network of people who can provide you technical, market or trend information when you don't need expertise, per se, in the form of a consultant. There is a use for a parallel network where you are the source for information, be it for media, government, nonprofit or other "non-consulting" entities, for whom your expertise is valuable.

Tip: Given list of your objectives, name five people for each objective that come to mind immediately as the people who could help you or be helped by you. If you can't come up with five, do a little research or ask others in your current networks who they consider their dream team of advisers and contacts they want to be in their networks. These should be people you wouldn't normally consider in your network; they would be more visible, more influential, and more in need of your services or information.

Pick only one off the list and contact them with a few ideas of how you could work together. Spend a few weeks developing this new addition to your network and evaluate your approach to growing your connections. Every few weeks (your pace may vary), pick another person and work them into your network. Based on this success, reevaluate the others on your network and recalibrate how helpful you can be or they can help you.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting colleagues  networks  referrals  teaming  virtual teams  your consulting practice 

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#587: Build in Coordination Time When Teaming

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I am often called on to team with other professionals to conduct a training program or facilitate some sessions. What amazes me is how well we come together, even though we may not have previously known each other or worked with the client before. Is this usual?

I wish I could say that a quickly assembled team of consultants or facilitators results in a smooth, productive experience. Certainly working with people with whom you have previously worked eases this process, but this is not always possible on short notice. We usually don't bring new people into a team unless necessary, but when we need to do so, there are a few caveats.

First, be clear what qualities you are looking for in a team member (e.g., technical skills, political acumen, relationships, industry or client experience, and data). Recognize that if you depart from such standards, you may be asking for trouble in delivering for your client. Second, look closely at the personality. You will need to quickly come together and agree on process approach and deployment, so flexibility and tolerance for ambiguity should be high on your list. Third, if you don't know them personally, get at least one reference, to increase the odds that the person will fit the team. Finally, check in with your client about the proposed team members. If you plan to put these new individual in a client-facing setting, the client should have some input into the selection.

Tip: Make sure to build in time to get the team in sync. Even seasoned professionals benefit by going over terminology, personalities, engagement rules established by the client, performance expectations of the convener of the team, preferences of team members (after all, each of them will have firmly set ways of conducting their business), the process steps and timing for the project at hand, and the protocols for making decisions during the engagement. Professionalism involves attention to details to make sure.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  consulting colleagues  consulting process  facilitation  teaming 

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