Read and Send Articles to Clients

You have to read a lot to stay at the top of your game. It is a must. From this day forward, I want you to consider reading material from two vantage points. First, staying at the top of your field and knowing what trends and issues are developing in your marketplace.

The second perspective is this: read material with an eye toward how the material will help your clients and prospects. Then, when you are completed reading and making notes, or tear out these pages from the magazines or journals and make copies of them and the and send them to your clients and prospects. If you are reading these online, send the link with a note highlighting certain aspects of the article.

You will be amazed at two things that happen. First, you are forcing yourself to see things from the client's perspective. Seeing things from the client's perspective is a skill we need to hone every single day. Nothing else matters other than how our clients are doing and how they think they know us. This leads to the second amazing thing that will happen. And that is this: Your clients will be absolutely astonished that you think about them and their well-being. So many times, clients become jaundiced, because whenever you seem to show up is around the time when they have a need or a problem and when they have money to spend to fix the problem and address their need. (This of course better be true to some extent by the way!!!)

But through reading and taking notes, and sending these articles and notes to your clients, you will be seen differently than your competitors. This little act separates you from the pack. It identifies you as someone who is staying at the top of their game AND thinking about your clients and prospects in a completely different manner.

So, cull your reading material for information that is of interest to a current client, previous clients and prospective clients. Send the information so the article or report or whatever it is, lands on the desks by Tuesday or Wednesday. Or in that next meeting about the status of your current project, you can turn a dull dried out meeting into something different. By bringing the information to them, you are letting them know that you thought it would be of interest to them and their particular responsibilities and you care about their success. You will reinforce that you have their interests in mind. And it is yet another way to stay "top of mind" with them.

Good Luck - Joe

Think of Your Clients By Listening

While in a client engagement, try to listen to the people you work with. I mean really listen. The amount of information you can pick up about a person can be astounding.

When I say this and tell you what will help you, don't read this with a cynical eye. It's not just about getting more business. It's about developing and maintaining relationships. And through developing and maintaining relationships, our jobs become easier because their is a sense of comraderie and frankly, fun, because of the trust we have built.

So, when you are in a client meeting on Monday, and everyone goes around the conference room table talking about the weekend, you may hear things like; "I took our son to a ______." It may be to a hockey game or to the orthodontist. Or you will hear, "My daughter and I went to the ______." It may be to a play or to Barnes and Noble for a book report.

You will immediately start hearing some things that matter to the people you work with. Things that are important to them, personally. You may just want to consider asking them next Monday, if the book report or hockey game turned out well. Or sending them information that you may have that your daughter has, because she wrote something about that book last year.

Even better, when the conversation turns to business, you will hear around the table things people are struggling with in terms of the a project, a person, a department or a customer. Think about how you might be able to help them because of your experience or something you have found.

How you offer help will endear you or make you untrustworthy. If you are insincere, people will see you as sneaky. If you are sincere, and offer the information up - just like a balloon in the air, and not push it, after the meeting one-on-one, in person or later over the phone, you will really build the trust and relationship network.

We are all people. We have personal and professional lives. And as much as we really believe we can keep the two separate - we really can't.

Next time, listen. Stop your mind from racing and listen to what interests others or what they are struggling with. Offering up some reading material or a website may go a long way in cementing a relationship and building the trust you need to do well in your assignments.

One more thing. The approach I mention above - pointing out material that is not yours - is better then providing advice. Advice can be a form of judgement. And this might be taken as a put-down.

Consultants' Conflict - When To Avoid Conflicts and Addressing Problems

Whenever we deal with people there will be conflict. No one is perfect and no matter how "rational" business is supposed to be, it is very emotional. Why? Because we pore our heart and souls into our work. And anyone who tells you otherwise is not in touch with reality or someone you don't want on your team or working for you.

There are many times when you want to avoid conflict. And they deal with your emotions and the other party's emotions. You never want to sweep conflict under the rug. You have to address it. And the rule of thumb is; to address sooner, rather than later.

So when do you avoid conflict? Here are some guidelines:

  1. When you are pissed off. Goes without saying doesn't it? But this is usually when we hit conflicts head on. This absolutely the wrong time to do this however, and we all know it.
  2. When we have had little sleep. Our jobs sometimes require us to be up late at night and early in the morning. But sleep deprivation is a huge issue today and it makes us do things we normally would not do. In fact, it is directly related to #1 above. Little sleep, allows us to slip into anger very quickly.
  3. When there are multiple parties in the room. Depending on the situation, the rule of thumb should be to take it off line. This allows you the ability to be direct and not look like you are showing off for the others in the room.
  4. When you are not prepared. Preparation not to allow the conversation to get into a "he said, she said" situation. Preparation means having the facts, and having a game plan to disengage.
  5. When the other party is any of the above. Give them notice. Allow them to prepare too. This is not a "I win" and "I take the spoils" discussion. Know your aim. What do you want to have happen? What is your goal? Give the other party a chance to talk and defend and explain. Be open. Your perception can be totally off base. Preparation is the key for this.
  6. Over email. Never address things over email. Email sucks.
  7. Without consideration of the question; "How important is this?" Go after big things. Little things can be secondary.

Conflict avoidance is not conducive to a good working environment. But there are some people who stink at addressing conflict and see it as an emotional affront to their professionalism. In fact, some people may hide behind a statement of "this is unprofessional" which is usually a cloak to hide behind and not wanting to address the real issue whereby they do have something to hide.

Consultants - Client Conflicts - Deal With Them Immediately

No matter what the project, there will always be a client conflict. It may be unstated, but somewhere a long the line, you will run into a problem. It can be a minor issue, or a major issue. And almost invariably, the problem will take a turn toward a human conflict.

In all conflicts, deal with them immediately and unemotionally. Deal with them as you perceive it, and state it as such. Say, "It is my perception that this is a problem." Try not to make it personal. Try to leave room for the person to save face. Taking responsibility for the problem by stating it as "your perception" may deflate the conflict and allow for a discussion.

State clearly the ramifications of the problem and how it impacts business. Carefully consider doing this even if the problems were all or partially the client's doings , but remember the customer is always right.

Again, you will reinforce professionalism by hitting it head-on and unemotionally. It will show that you are interested in doing the job right. It will show that it is not just about making money for you. And that you give clients more than their money's worth.

Never Talk Out of School

Never talk out of school. Never discuss a past client's situation or staff. Never discuss the exact nature of a specific client's problem. And of course never, ever discuss previous assignments in terms of how bad that particular client was or how ignorant you thought they were. It does not matter whether you never mention the client's name or not.

As soon as you begin to "bad mouth" others for whom you have worked with, a client will see you as a danger to his organization. He will see you do not exercise discretion. And this may impact his organization or the people within it negatively.

As soon as you speak negatively, or say something that you may think is humorous at the previous client's expense, this present client immediately puts his name in place of the client you are referring to. And they say to themselves, "What if he starts talking about us (or me) in this manner?"

You will soon find yourself out of a project, a project that gets scoped down in size, or no follow-on work.

But since you are a professional, you already know this. But we can all use helpful reminding.

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