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Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?

#1 Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
05/05/2004 10:02

Ben Coker

Over the last month I've been approached in one way or another to join several 'consultancy networks'. Examples are the IIB, IBD, SBA, Penman and Lamberhurst. All of these offer networking with other members of the group as a key benefit and all offer some form of 'appointments' system whereby they arrange (for a fee) meetings with potential clients 'decision makers'. It is then up to the individual consultant to 'sell' either their own services or in some cases the 'packaged' services offered by the group. The key being that wherever you go and whatever the client wants there will be someone in the network who has the necessary skills. In some cases the organisation takes a percentage of the fee and it others it doesn't.

In all cases however, there is a fairly hefty payment required to join, usually presented as payment for a 'training course' with prices ranging from £4000 to £8750 (+ VAT). Lamberhurst is slightly different from the others in that it has a monthly fee of £250 and works the 'corporate' rather than 'SME' markets and instead of offering 'appointments' puts teams of people together to service corporate bids.

All these organisations offer 'no guarantees' that any work will be forthcoming but do present a very good sales pitch and seem to be rapidly growing their numbers. However, it seems to me that they are doing very little that the Institute doesn't do in terms of the key benefit which is the ability to resource shortfalls in an assignment from other people in the network.

I've talked to a number of people at these presentations but very few have heard of or considered joining the IMC. There appears to be a demand for what the Institute does but little awareness of the services it provides. Perhaps this is one reason why growth has been less than envisaged - there is clearly a need for increased marketing activity by the IMC and perhaps some advice or at least discussion (as an independent body) about the advantages and disadvantages of joining these 'commercial' networks.

Ben Coker

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#2 Re: Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
06/05/2004 22:30

enock mutangara

Dear Ben

Thank you very much for your article.i definately found it very useful and indeed making a follow up on the networks you highlighted .


enock mutangara

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#3 Re: Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
07/05/2004 10:56

John Maclean

One deduction from your comments might be that joining a network and committing to pay its 'training courses' is currently too subjective and anecdotal. So if there is insufficient evidence to make a hard decision we need to introduce better metrics on which to evaluate the choice. Perhaps we can construct appropriate metrics of subscriber benefits and £reward averaged across the whole of the membership, not just star results that are used as sales references. Like investing in any venture, it is probably worth adding these sort of metrication questions to the FAQs of the enterprises concerned and even carrying out a due diligence (Dun & Bradstreet, Society accounts etc), just as if you were consulting / advising for a client on the worth of an investment. If enough consultants do this, we might get more transparency of these operations and be in a better position to determine "Facilitation or Exploitation"!

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#4 Re: Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
07/05/2004 15:34

Sailor Sam

Friend of mine paid a substantial four figure sum to become a member of the Independent Institute of Small Business Advisors. He has had some meetings arranged for him by the 'Institute', but these have rarely been with decision makers. 12 months down the line he's managed to sell zero business. Just about sums it up - exploitation of the gullible.

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#5 Re: Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
07/05/2004 22:55

Neil Thomson

Ben, interesting posting. I would be very cautious about joining a consulting network that charged you for the privilege. I belong to a network of about 25 consultants, but its a peer network, run by its members rather than a company trying to make money out of administering the network. Like most, ours grew from a bunch of people with similar skills and a similar level of consulting experience who had worked together in previous lives in niche global consulting firms. My advice would be join a global consulting firm (if you haven't been-there, done-that already), spend 5 - 10 years building your experience and profile, get networked in with current and previous consultant groups, and leave to set up your own firm as part of the network.

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#6 Re: Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
10/05/2004 10:05

Ian Barton

Too be honest I had over twenty years experience in consultancy....but a fair degree of time overseas and therfore with areduced network in the UK. I thought that these associatiations looked a good idea....and so checked some out. To be honest they are expensive, they taught me nothing (in fact I think the other way around) and delivered absolutely zip...sorry and invoice for their service.

Sure some sell at a corporate level and sell themselves, using the network as a leverage, but unless you are one of the few that theydo work with, guess work. There are also a number of groups that have paid the money and then set themselves up as a loose association. So I guess my experience, and that of others is explotation...

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#7 Re: Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
12/05/2004 09:39

Professor Tom Lambert

At the risk of using what may appear to be over-strong language my view, developed as the result of considerable research, has been and remains that the majority of these organisations are leeches that feed on the fears and frustrations of those that are new to our industry or who are worried by the cycle of feast and famine that bedevils most newcomers - and a majority of experienced "one person bands" at some point. My first book "High Income Consulting" based on research into what the highest earners actually do to have clients "beat a path to their door" was the result of research carried out over more than 20 years by the late Howard Shenson and myself into the no cost ways that the top earners thrive. It is important to understand that there are worthwhile networking organisations out there, but those that in effect say, "Give us thousands of pounds and we'll make you a consultant" are simply denying the individual the chance to succeed. Those who are ill-advised enough to consider investing their all in the vain hope of a flow of business should pause and consider whether it might not be better to use their money to put food on the table until they have built their reputation and their practice. Effective networking is essential to consultants, but effective networking begins by working with respected colleagues the quality of whose work you know. This excludes by definition the charlatans that no longer have a market for outdated management training and are only after your cash. Buyer beware!

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#8 RE: Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
14/01/2010 14:43

Interested to Ben Coker (#1)

I really useful post. I have been looking at the Lamberhurst Corporation but could not find anything material about it on the web. Any personal experiences of Lamberhurst most welcome!

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#9 RE: Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
31/03/2010 12:56

Jan to Interested (#8)

How did you get on with Lamberhurst? I have been involved with consultancy for the public sector for the past 2/3 years and have found it difficult over the past year. Lamberhurst have contacted me offering me to attend one of their meetings. Whilst I have worked with 'associates' on and off for the past two years, their overall direction is not necessarily where I want to go to, but on the plus side, I know them and share their ethics. Meeting up with others who may share the same goals and work ethics as me would be helpful.

Any feedback on Lamberhurst would be helpful.

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#10 RE: Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
31/03/2010 17:49

Not Anon to Professor Tom Lambert (#7)

This is good stuff! I'll recommend Tom's book - it's a helpful read. For networking the 'lessor trodden path' works well.

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#11 RE: Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
16/07/2010 19:44

Sonia to Interested (#8)

I recently went to a sells pitch by a man and woman from Lamberhurst. I wasnt that impressed with the sales pitch - the woman seemed bored. However, i was quite impressed with what they had to offer. the main concerns i felt were the high number of attendees and time constraints. Group questioning was not entered into and we were subjected to the double glazing sales technique. I asked a question about price which was brushed over. Lamberhurst later invited those who were interested back 1-2-1 interviews. During interview they mentioned joining as an associate member at a substantially reduced fee compared to full membership. However, they did not mention this at the presentation - it was geared towards flogging full membership which was obviously more lucrative to them. No I did not join because i did not feel they were upfront about their fees. Also it would have been nice to hear from real people who had benefitted from joining.

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#12 RE: Consultancy Networks - Exploitation or Facilitation?
16/07/2010 20:09

sonia to Ben Coker (#1)

Hi what is IMC?

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