Discussion forum for members of the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Jump Start Your Consulting - Second Report

Bruce Katcher of the Discovery Group is leading a 6 session series entitled “Jump Start your Consulting Practice”. Having won the ODLG’s member draw, I have undertaken to share my learnings through this blog.

The second session dealt with the topic: How to establish credibility

Bruce focused on 7 ways:

1. Obtain referrals from satisfied clients.

This is the most obvious way to establish credibility with future clients, and there are many variations on this theme, ranging from polite to downright cheeky. Interesting observation that people who know you relatively well are less likely to refer you than people who know you less. Here is what some people do:
• Send clients a thank you and ask if they can think of any one who might need your services. Warm leads are better than cold calls; hot leads are when they call ahead of time.
• Build it into the prewrap up of the project, while you are still in the “hugging phase” with the client.
• Include request in your proposal, saying you build your business on referrals, and ask to be referred to at least two people.
• Educate your referral sources – they often don’t actually know what you do. Give specific examples of how you have helped clients rather than giving an elevator pitch in generic language or jargon.
• Be proactive . Send a periodic newsletter to update people. For e-newsletters, opt out is more effective than opt in.
• Offer payment, such as a 10% finder’s fee, but this could be interpreted as seedy.

2. Ask for testimonials.

Transfer credibility of someone else to you.

3. Endorsements.

Ask a client to write a letter about you and send it to people they know. This can be a powerful endorsement, but you have to be sure to choose the right person and be careful how you frame your request.

4. Write a book.

The ultimate credibility builder, that gets you into so many places.

5. Publish articles

Since editors always looking to fill space, it is not usually difficult to get published this way. Target the right journals for your audience and pitch your story. Other ways of building credibility are to build relationships with journalists and get quoted, or to write letters to the editor. Check on how you are doing with Google alerts.

6. Conduct a survey.

Could be a one item or open ended survey. This is a good way of getting in front of your target market and becoming the expert at the same time – you own the data that they have provided you with! Only downside is that it is a lot of work, but the payback can be big.

7. Speak.

National Speakers Association helps you get speaking engagements. To get started, talk in front of professional groups. Ask the Program Chair what their members might be interested in within the broad subjects you cover and pitch your talk. Push yourself to do it if you are good at it. Another variation is to teach a college course as an adjunct – good for marketing, though not for earnings.

And this report would not be complete without mention of the chicken curry salad that I know as Coronation Chicken, a mix of English and Indian traditions, a recipe developed to celebrate the crowning of Queen Elizabeth, but that Bruce insists comes from his friend in New Jersey – whatever its provenance, it was delicious!

More next time.

Fredia Woolf
Woolf Consulting


Sunday, March 12, 2006

What are the best OD Practices?

Our March 9 meeting was about best practices in six areas of OD. This was the third time we have held this kind of program, and each time we have varied the practice areas to be considered. In this 2006 version we had subsections on coaching, culture change, diversity, leadership development, performance improvement, and team building. In previous meetings in July 2003 and March 2004, we also gave attention to best practices in change management, conflict resolution, and strategic planning.

Meetings in this format (often referred to as the “John LeBlanc” format, after the former Coordinating Committee member, now in Seattle, who invented it) have always been well attended and enthusiastically reviewed. It provides a valuable opportunity to update one’s thinking and to find out what is going on in various practice areas, and it could even lead to actual communities of practice within the Learning Group.

Rather than single out any practice area, we are thus inviting, as the Question of the Month, discussion on what are the best OD practices. So let’s have your thoughts on what practice areas are particularly important and what are the best tools, interventions or models in these areas.