I refused to be “retired” when I took a buyout retirement package after 25 years at a Fortune 500 company. I saw “retirement” as rocking on the porch while watching the world go by. So, I started my first consulting company, “Total Quality Assistance” (to help companies improve their performance through Total Quality Management). However, I had no concept of how much time and effort it would take to acquire my first paying client.
My First Pro-Bono Client
No matter how I marketed myself, I could not land a client. I had joined the 100-member Rochester Professional Consultants Network (RPCN). Nine RPCN members were organizing a consulting “collaborative” to offer clients a broad range of skills. I volunteered to use my strategy-facilitating skills pro-bono to help the team to build a Mission, Vision and Strategy; market
and price their services; and set “finders’ fees” for members who brought in paying prospects. Little did I know that I was on the path to my first paying client.
I officially joined this “Consulting Collaborative” when they decided to cold-call all the companies on the ”List of New York State Manufacturers”. We each took 30 companies to call and arrange meetings with company executives. Each of us developed our own phone scripts and approaches to land a meeting.
I “rode the phone” and called 30 companies in three days. I made about 70 actual calls because I wouldn’t leave my name and a message. Instead, I would call back until I reached the president or manager. If an assistant said the person was not available, I would ask “What’s a better time to call?” I would use only the person’s first name, implying familiarity with them. (This backfired once when the assistant said the person had died two years before. I quickly asked who had replaced them and carried on).
Some of our “cold-callers” were not well suited for this rejection-rich marketing work. One was rebuffed in his first half-dozen calls. He was emotionally devastated by all the “no’s”. He stopped calling and couldn’t go on. His depression was so complete that he never cold-called again.
We all got a taste of what was required to market ourselves as consultants. I was lucky and arranged meetings with executives from three companies. (At that time, the success-rate expectation for cold- calling was about 3%.)
My First Real (Paying) Client
In one of the meetings I had arranged, a company president became my first paying client. He needed my business-strategy services (plus help from a marketing colleague).
We teamed up, set our prices, and earned our first consulting fees (YESSSS!!!)
I broke the ice! I was on my way to consulting success. Or, so I thought. I needed a lot more business-building after this client.
Opportunity: I learned that you never know where the next opportunity will come from. Who knew that facilitating a group of colleagues would lead me to a client? Keep your eyes open for opportunities. Try a little pro-bono work to showcase your skills and build your reputation.
Persistence: Another lesson is that marketing and selling are not for the faint-of-heart. You must absorb the “rejection knock-downs”, get back up and try again. Cold-calling took lots of constant effort and hard-knocks. (I don’t use it anymore: Smart-phones, Caller-I.D., Robo-callers, etc. have changed the game).
Adapt: I pivoted to, and still use, Targeted Networking as my main marketing method. I also use facilitating, presentations and writing. You must keep trying new things to keep yourself in the game.
These lessons have served me well in other consulting ventures, including my current company “Consultants Accelerator,” where I help people start consulting businesses. But that is a story for another time.
I wish you success in acquiring your first (or next) client.
On July 16 we had a noon presentation on three facets of the Enhancing Human Capital information, originally provided to RPCN by Dr. Floyd Tucker as a program dedicated to improving individual and group performance. The program was delivered by Bob Lewis via Zoom and covered the Human Resource topics of Rewards, Remuneration and Recognition.
Robert Lewis sought to explore the EHC features of Reward, Remuneration and Recognition as identified in the original syllabus provided to RPCN by Dr. Tucker.
After due definition of organizational structure for Rewards and Remuneration, Robert chose to focus on Recognition as a facet that provided considerable room for individual and organizational development.
Recognition. After establishing some documentation of the impact of recognition from the Gallup Research group, it was established that recognition can be a powerful force in eliciting strong employee performance. There was much discussion of instances where recognition had been applied constructively balanced by many where recognition had been misapplied. This could be by providing recognition for persons uncomfortable with public exposure or others recognized publicly for activities not considered relevant by the recipient. It became very evident that, powerful as recognition is, when recognition is not given in a manner suitable to the recipient, it may have little or negative value. Overall, however, it was recognized as highly valuable.
RPCN Enhancing Human Capital VIRTUAL Lunch-n-Learn – August 20 – Zoom Meeting
Please join us for the next installment of RPCN’s EHC newly virtual Lunch –n- Learn on Thursday August 20 at 11:30 AM via Zoom. We will discuss Building Trust as presented in Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits” with a special focus on Covey’s sixth habit - “Synergize.” We all know that trust is critical in well-functioning teams (whether the teams be internal within a single company or external including clients, suppliers, and partners), and we will discuss how trust can help us synergize and create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
To get more information about EHC, please contact the EHC team at EHC@rochesterconsultants.org or join us on August 20 at 11:30 via Zoom. The event is open to members and non-members alike, but please register in advance as it will help us with logistics of organizing the Zoom meeting.
Consulting Program Looking for Clients Needing Consulting Help and Also Looking for Mentoring Volunteers
As I mentioned last month, the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business (Simon) plans to continue the Simon Vision Consulting Program and RPCN will continue to supply mentors to the program this coming fall semester. Also,, as mentioned previously, we will not only be looking for RPCN members to mentor student project teams but also for clients with projects for the student teams to provide assistance.
This program is an effort to increase experiential learning opportunities for Simon’s MBA and MS students. It is a student-run program that usually has 4-5 student members per team. Each team provides consulting to (typically) a local small business for 8 - 12 weeks, i.e. one semester. (In the semester that follows, Simon sometimes has another student consulting team take over another project for the same company.)
Participation in the program is voluntary for the students and is not part of the regular Simon curriculum. In addition to the RPCN mentors, there are a couple of faculty advisers who help the students run the program.
If you or a client or associate have a well-defined project that could be outsourced, the Simon Vision Consulting Program could be a great source to get your project completed. Projects are typically staffed with four to five Vision consultants and a project manager. Ideally, projects in the fall semester last about 8 weeks, longer projects may also viable. The leadership of the Simon Vision Consulting Program will work with you to define a project that can be successfully completed within these constraints.
The project can be any business problem, and Simon Vision Consulting teams have successfully completed projects focused on marketing, business strategy, financial planning, operations, competitive analysis and the like. Examples of completed projects include reviewing ways to decrease seasonal fluctuations in sales, developing a financial plan to solicit funding, and exploring new marketing channels. So, you can see that the projects can take on a wide variety of topics. And did we mention that the student teams work for FREE!
Projects are vetted by the Simon Vision Consulting student governing board and typically 6 – 15 projects are chosen each semester. For the fall semester, which will start in August, we are expecting 12-15 projects to be chosen. They have most of the projects for the current semester lined up; but if your (or your client’s) project appears to be something the program is interested in, they may be able to squeeze it in for the fall semester. Alternatively, if it isn’t an urgent project, it may be able to be run in the spring semester.
We are also hoping to find volunteers willing to be mentors in the fall semester. If you have an interest in helping Simon fulfill its motto (“Where thinkers become leaders!”) and also have experience in marketing, general management, operations, or even consulting in general (and we are the Rochester Professional Consultants Network, so you should be good there!) please let us know and we will add you to the mentorship roster. For the fall semester we are looking for up to 15 RPCN members who would be available to meet with students every two to three weeks over the 12-week project term.
We are also looking for additional RPCN members who could provide specific subject matter expertise should the student teams require it. We are anticipating that the program will begin at the end of August or early September and the projects would begin soon thereafter, with a mid-November target for project completion. Last semester, due to the COVID crisis, the project mentors met with their teams virtually via Zoom for about an hour 2-4 times. We anticipate that project mentors would meet with their teams 3-6 times (most likely 4-5 times) this semester so the time commitment on the part of project managers should only be about 10-20 hours over the course of the semester. We do not yet know whether teams will be allowed to meet in person or if this will be a virtual meeting experience once again, but we do expect that all appropriate precautions will be taken to keep the meetings a safe learning experience.
If you are interested in having a Simon Vision Consulting Project Team perform work for you, or would simply like more information about the program, (or even if you’d like to volunteer to be an RPCN member mentor to a student team) please contact Dave Bassett at email@example.com.
To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize, that is the Question.
One group of what I describe as “grammar glitches” involves capitalization. Sometime we don’t capitalize when we should, and sometimes the reverse is the case.
I think we all learned, somewhere in the past, that there are nouns and proper nouns. Without getting into detail, proper nouns are usually titles, or names of places or people. Their first letters are correctly capitalized. One way to know a proper noun is that we rarely precede it with “the,” as in “I’m going to visit the London,” or “I hope I’ll see the Susan soon” (unless we are goofing around of course).
A complication comes when we are writing about such things as topics for study. I’ll use an old grad school field of study of mine, human motivation. When it is used as the title of an academic course It is capitalized. It is capitalized, too, when it is a book title. However, when it is used in a sentence and does not fit either of those categories, it is not normalized capitalized. E.g. “He specialized in teaching human motivation and left more general motivational issues to others.”
I’m writing this column because in the past few months I have encountered, from several different people, groups of items used in sentences, but being capitalized. An example (not one of those submitted for our newsletter) “I hope we can increase our understanding of Technology, Communication, and Marketing,” In such a case you would see the sentence in the published RPCN Newsletter transformed to “I hope we can increase our understanding of technology, communication, and marketing.” Used in such a way, those words are not used as proper nouns.
It is tricky, I admit. Fine lines are often confusing. However there it is.
For people who are deeply dedicated to capitalizing, one way to do it would be to show them as a list:
However, unless it involves a few more items than the three that I’ve used here, the insertion of such a list may well disrupt the flow of the sentence for very little reason.
I hope this is useful, but, of course, if you prefer to leave such things to your RPCN Newsletter editor, that’s okay. I can handle it… provided it is submitted on time… LOL
We held another RPCN EHC Lunch & Learn on Zoom on Thursday April 16 at 11:30 AM. Our topic was building trust, based on Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits.” We had nearly two dozen attendees including two non-members and two members attending for the first time. The discussion was lively, and centered around trust and how to gain the trust of the people we interact with by having a special focus on Covey’s “Emotional Bank Account” (or Trust Bank Account).
We had a lot of discussion about what Covey considered the six major deposits to the Emotional Bank Account (understanding the individual, attending to the little things, keeping commitments, clarifying expectations, showing personal integrity, and apologizing sincerely when you make a withdrawal). A possible addition was also discussed - whether there should be a seventh major deposit—exhibiting vulnerability / authenticity.
We also discussed how problems can actually be opportunities to build that Trust Bank Account and, further, how the current COVID-19 is providing opportunities for us to build trust with our coworkers, clients, and suppliers.
Did You Know?
Call for Speakers
Have you ever wondered how RPCN manages to offer four (or more) meetings every month, even during the current pandemic? Two of those meetings, the Business and Technical Forums, each with its own facilitator, repeat every month. The other two meetings usually involve separate presentations, so that we have two new topics each month. So where do we find two different presentations every month? Good question!
For several years, RPCN has been fortunate to have a Program Director, Michael van der Gaag, who finds amazing presenters and topics that can benefit anyone who is in the consulting business. Michael has a difficult job at best and has done it well for a long time.
However, RPCN always needs more speakers and you may be able to help.
We all know people who are potential speakers. Many business people like nothing better than to talk about the way their businesses work and how they could help others. They could be delighted to share their skills with us by making presentations to RPCN so that we can learn from them. There is a link on the RPCN website for you to learn more, and to direct Michael to them for follow-up. Look for “Call for Speakers,” the fourth item down under the Events link on the main menu.
Michael would be delighted to receive suggestions from you. After all, if you suggest a speaker, it could ultimately be of great value to RPCN and its members, including you.
And wouldn’t you feel good about that!
There is a link on the RPCN website for you to learn more and to direct Michael to them for follow up. It’s “Call for Speakers” and is the fourth item down under the Events link on the main menu.
As an “Information Professional,” I get a lot of emails from various sources, including other organizations to which I belong. KnowItAALL is a subscription I get because I am a member of the American Association of Law Libraries.
Here are a couple of articles you might find interesting.
KnowItAALL: Your Daily Connection to the News You Need / 7.21.2020
Introduction: David Sbarra, a clinical psychologist and professor in the psychology department at the University of Arizona, directs the department's Laboratory for Social Connectedness and Health and studies how human health-both psychological and physical-is tied to our close relationships. Here, he discusses how the prolonged nature of this unprecedented health crisis might contribute to chronic stress and "pandemic fatigue:"
So, what is Current Awareness and why should you care? Next month I will explain what it is and why you should be doing this.
Not an RPCN member? You can join RPCN now to receive great benefits, including free admission to RPCN presentations, a listing in the RPCN Member Directory, and discounts to RPCN events. Click here for more information on joining RPCN.
Program Ad Sheets
At every RPCN meeting, and at our events and tradeshow booths, RPCN distributes the Program Ad sheets.
Ads are inexpensive and support RPCN. The cost for members to advertise is $20 for 2 months. For non-members, the cost is $40 for 2 months. The deadline to get your ad included in the September/October 2020 calendar ad sheet is August 15, 2020. Sign up for your ad here.
A note from our copyeditor:
Good day, RPCN members:
As you know, I “pre-edit” the RPCN newsletter before sending it on to Melanie, who puts the newsletter together. This note is just to help us keep things in order because the system sometimes becomes rather more complicated than it sounds here.
In order to help me to retain my sanity, and to avoid my stretching Melanie’s to its limits as well, would you please, if possible:
1. Get your copy of the newsletter to us as close to the 21st of the month as is possible. (It is much more efficient if I can edit them all over a short period.)
2. Put your name and “RPCN newsletter” in the subject line.
3. Make sure that the piece you have just finished writing IS the piece that you actually send us.
The RPCN newsletter welcomes news, success stories, tips, resources, events and other items that would be of broad interest to consultants. Submit a newsletter item to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion.