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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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#701: Communicate Powerfully - Nonverbally

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 21, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 21, 2011
I am always amazed by the disconnect in some people between body language and the words coming from their mouths. It got me to thinking that consultants, given that we are supposed to be experts/authority figures, should probably pay more attention to our nonverbal cues.

You raise a good point. It is hard to be authentic as a trusted advisor interested in client issues when you are sitting across from them, leaning back in your chair, with your legs and arms crossed and your hand on your face - all gestures suggesting you are closed off from the other person. However, leaning forward, arms in front of you with palms open, eye contact, appropriate facial expressions, and other indicators of interest will engender more trust.

Unless we take the time to recognize how these gestures might be interpreted and pay attention to our own nonverbal communication, we are possibly cutting off trust by our clients and that may hinder our ability to deliver good value. Alternatively, you may want to become a student of body language and other subtle (or not so subtle) cues so you can better judge where your client is coming from. Nothing says be careful like a words of confidence spoken by a person whose body language says they are not so sure.

Tip: Diversity in all its forms, whether ethnicity, age, nationality, lifestyle, gender or other types, brings with it complication of what body language really means. A friendly gesture on one culture may be seen as disrespectful in another. What is common in one generation may be confusing in another. A great book to sensitize you to how various cultures see the world and how to act and think appropriately, is Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands (The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More than 60 Countries). This book opened my eyes to how to better understand verbal and nonverbal communication as well as appreciate different ethnographic and cultural perspectives (not only among countries but within your own). It is a fun read and valuable reference book.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  business culture  travel  trust 

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#592: Charge Wisely for Travel Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I have a few clients for whom I have to spend a few hours per month on a plane. Should I be charging for travel time?

This is truly something that should be worked out in your consulting agreement before the project starts. If you are working during travel, then this question is moot: you are working on behalf of your client so you can legitimately charge for hours worked. This will likely be at full rate if you believe you are working at full productivity.

I presume, however, you are referring to time you are not working for a client but are prevented from billing any other client. If you take a morning flight of several hours, then half a potentially billable day is lost. On one hand, you provided no services to a client so the client might claim you should not be paid. On the other hand, the travel was needed for you to be on site to provide services you couldn't otherwise provide off site. Recognize that a hard line on either position is likely to create some tension.

How you resolve this depends on how well your client trusts you and how much travel involved. If your client is generous, then travel both ways might be chargeable. However, a fair approach for most clients is to split the difference and pay for half the travel, assuming you are traveling and not working for another client or on your own firm's administrative duties during that time.

Tip: Talk to your client and come to an equitable arrangement. Explain your rationale and why you are willing to share the cost (since you are incurring real costs). However, make absolutely sure that you are being ethical and not being paid to travel by one client and charging another for work you are doing on the plane - double billing for the same time.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  fees  goodwill  practice management  travel 

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#490: Being Efficient With Your Conference Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, January 28, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I go to the four conferences annually in the related fields I serve. I attend the sessions, but mostly I am there to network, meet prospects, and find out what's new in each field. Each conference lasts the better part of a work week (when you include travel). That equates to a month's worth of commitment each year for me. Do you have any ideas how I can handle this more efficiently?

Here are some ideas:
  1. Spend less time at the conference. Pick the one day you want most, making it a day when there is not a major evening activity.
  2. On nights when there are no scheduled evening activities, why not try to pre-arrange a dinner meeting with a potential prospect or colleague. Use your time productively and connect in advance with other attendees to get together for breakfast or during breaks.
  3. Get a suite and set up a temporary office. Invite prospects (in advance of the conference) to attend individual meetings. In addition, you can easily get other work done during the rest of the time you are there. Result: You don't miss a beat. Simply attend the sessions and events you want and treat the rest of the time like a normal work week.
Tip: Don't get tricked into following the schedule or priorities laid out by conference organizers. This "suggested schedule" is designed to engage you in as many offerings as possible, not necessarily what you need. Sometimes you need to perform a quick "cost-benefit" analysis when deciding whether or not you even need to physically attend a particular conference. Look carefully at the actual agenda, length, and cost carefully when making your decision and try to "quantify" the benefit of actually being there. As an alternative, many conferences do offer lower cost methods to obtaining the critical conference content (such as DVD, CD's, etc.).

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  efficiency  learning  practice management  travel 

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#468: Turn Travel "Down Time" Into Productive Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, December 29, 2010
How can I make non business hours while I am on client travel more productive?

Some consultants travel a lot and if this is you, then you can appreciate that it is not so much time wasted and time that you can't better use (subtle difference). This is because you are away from the people, resources and spaces you'd prefer to have available. Given that you are on the road without those things, here are some tips to make your travel time more productive:
  1. Improve your ability to work from the road. Consider investing in mobile technology so you can work from anywhere and at anytime. Make sure to thoroughly evaluate a product's durability, flexibility, weight and adaptability. Although it might cost you more, you will need to rely on the dependability of your equipment to allow conduct your business at the drop of a hat.
  2. Actively manage your travel time for maximum productivity. Although many of us find working on planes is very conducive to getting work done, we often fail to consider other "downtime" opportunities such as cab rides, waiting for flights, etc.
  3. Free evenings on the road (as well as the morning hours before work) can be used for more focused work and rejuvenation -exercise, planning, reading, etc. As Covey puts it, use these pockets of downtime to "sharpen your saw" (i.e., nurturing and renewing your physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being).
  4. Keep yourself well-organized and take a little time to plan what you are going to pack in advance. Take whatever you think you might need with you on a trip. Keep it light, but take it.
Tip: Exercise, work, relax. Make that travel time work better for you. Instead of feeling constrained by traveling, feel temporarily liberated from your normal work schedule, free to do things for which you usually "don't have time."

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  efficiency  time management  travel 

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#422: Make the Best of Each Airplane Trip

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I travel a lot by air and although I can usually select my seat, the airlines don't give any information on what seats are good or bad. Is there any way to know how to pick the best seats?

Getting a comfortable and functional seat on a flight can mean the difference between a great experience and hours of wasted time. If you want to work on a cross country flight, having leg room, a power outlet and good lighting makes all the difference.

Leg room is usually the first thing to consider. As airlines try to get more revenue from each seat, they sometimes reconfigure more seats into the airframe. Standard seat pitch (distance from any point on a seat to the equivalent point on the seat in front or behind) is now about 32 inches. Some airlines like JetBlue offer higher pitch of 34 inches and, for a price of $10-$20 per seat, 38 inch pitch.

Reclining seats, especially if you plan to nap, is important. We have been in seats right in front of a bulkhead or exit row that reclines little if at all.

Lighting is important if you want to write. Common sense and experience suggest that right handers might prefer the right most seat in a cluster so the light is as far left as possible and won't cast shadows.

What other items might detract from your flight experience? A seat right next to an engine? One with a misaligned window where you can't see out? One without a power port? Right next to the lavatory?

Tip: Check out Seat Guru, which shows you, for each airline and plane it flies (available from your travel agent or online booking site), the amenities and cautions for each seat. The one resource to have before you book a seat.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  travel  work-life balance 

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