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Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of The Society for the Advancement of Consulting, LLC - Issue #25: October, 2005

Tips on communication

Tips on communication:

  • If a new project is going well, ask the buyer (or others) for referrals about two-thirds into the project. Ask all present and past clients for referrals at least three time a year.
  • Holiday gifts are often problematic because of ethical guidelines, and are lost in the volume of the season in any case. Why not send your clients a "thank you" for their business in June (pick a month) and provide something useful and safe, such as a list of great web sites, the world's best vacation spots, something about the client's hobbies, etc.
  • If you want to serve on a board, get a list of the board members (they must be made public for all non-profits, charities, public companies, etc.) and find a way to meet one of them. At the right time, suggest that you'd be honored to be considered for the next opening.
  • Gentlemen: A cheap tie and/or shirt ruins any suit. Ladies: No plastic shoes in business settings.
  • Look at the buyer's eyes. If he or she is looking away, out the window, or at items on the desk, the probability is that the buyer is not interested in what you are saying at the moment. Remedy: Immediately ask a question to "reconnect" and regroup.
  • Probably as much as 80% of your email is spam. Check your email twice a day. Use filters to send presumed spam to a junk mail file. Review that file quickly once every two days to make sure you didn't inadvertently remove a valid email, then permanently delete it entirely.
  • Don't leave lengthy voice mail messages. The odds are, they won't be returned quickly because the recipient doesn't have the time or inclination to listen to your long message. Much better: "Jane, this is Alan, call me this afternoon or tomorrow morning if possible about the Carter Contract. Thanks." (Worst habit: Leaving lists of time frames that you're available.)
  • If several people you meet all ask if you've read a certain book or seen a certain show, it's a good bet that you should read it or see it, which will help with the next persons who asks.
  • You must think "big." There is nothing worse than spending $100 to save $5. When you're in doubt, leave a little bigger tip, but the better piece of equipment, and hire the more expensive but more experienced vendor. It makes zero sense to drive 10 miles to save a nickel on a gallon of gas, if you get my drift.
  • People love to talk about profit, but as an entrepreneur it's your top line that's the key. You must increase your total revenues to really succeed. If you're charging properly by value, the profits will take care of themselves. Don't cut investment in your business or your development under the false assumption that you're increasing profits. You're really decreasing future revenues. This is a chronic mistake of solo practitioners.

Excellent read: 1491, which is the quite surprising story of the Americas just before Columbus arrived to see them in that state for the first--and last--time.

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