by Chris Swingle
Lori Cohen joined Rochester Professional Consultants Network (RPCN) in 2005 when she was considering starting her own business.
She quickly saw pluses. Her first client, a commercial printer seeking an internal quality auditor, found her through the member directory on the RPCN website (rochesterconsultants.org), and Cohen has learned strategies and tips to develop as a consultant from the meetings she attends. “I call it professional development,” says Cohen. “I always walk away with something I find useful.”
Cohen’s Greece-based business, Compass Quality Solutions, helps small manufacturers improve their processes. She also helps clients develop and implement quality management systems and achieve ISO 9001 certification, and provides training and internal auditing.
What has kept her in the group is the rich depth of benefits. She has gained good information from RPCN’s conferences and monthly question-answer forums on business issues and technical issues. She has enjoyed chances to network and opportunities to work with people and hold leadership positions, and has benefited from referrals to clients from other members. That works both ways: When she’s had too much work, Cohen has been able to refer clients to other RPCN members. “I have a group of people I know that I can call,” she says. “That’s part of the value you offer to clients. If you can’t do it, you know people who can.”
She became treasurer, vice president, and then, in 2011–2012, served as president of RPCN. While she previously tended to avoid conflict, holding leadership roles challenged her to work on those skills: “That was an opportunity for me to grow.”
What would she say to someone thinking of joining RPCN today? “I think it’s an excellent value,” says Cohen. “It’s like a board of advisors. You have questions, you have issues; you can bring them up to the group.” RPCN is especially valuable for people starting a solo business, who will learn things that they hadn’t even thought about, she says.
Don’t go to meetings expecting to get clients from within the room, Cohen adds. But by being involved and demonstrating your professionalism, you’ll get to know others who can connect you or refer you.
For a video about Cohen, see http://youtu.be/S_QVFSW0HxE
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