A monthly newsletter from the Rochester Professional Consultants Network.
RPCN's Consultants Business Bootcamp
In 2020, RPCN is celebrating its 30th anniversary. As part of that celebration, we will be conducting our fifth Consultants Business Bootcamp, a unique set of presentations, workshops and panel discussions helping participants learn how to start or improve their consulting business. Over the five Monday sessions, participants will:
Define their Services and Client Value
Identify and understand their target clients
Develop a plan to market themselves as a consultant
Learn how to build credibility and provide value
Learn how to present themselves and their value to prospective clients.
Obtain feedback on their value propositions from experienced successful business owners and consultants
Since its inception in 2012, the Consultant’s Business Bootcamp has given more than 85 new and experienced consultants terrific tools for building and improving their business for success.
If you would like a member of RPCN to speak to your group about the Boot Camp and RPCN please contact Devin K Floyd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RPCN History & Good-to-Know Facts
“RPCN History & Good-to-Know Facts” consists of short articles about people, activities, and events that contributed to the success of Rochester Professional Consultants Network. The last 30 years have woven the threads of RPCN into the strong, collaborative fabric that serves us today. We’ll look at how RPCN provides benefits to our members - and through members to their clients. (We have a bit of friendship, humor, and fun along the way).
Consulting as a Profession: An old, cynical adage tries to cast doubt on the effectiveness and ethics of consultants: “A consultant is a person who borrows your watch and charges you a fee to tell you the time” (See “Flawless Consulting” by Peter Block). I know hundreds of consultants, and none fit that derogatory definition. So, I wrote this limerick that better describes the Consulting Profession:
Consultants focus their wills
To apply their experience and skills
With dogged defiance
To the problems of clients
They earn their fees
And pay their bills
Startup: In 1990, about ten participants in an outplacement program “Career Resource Center” were exploring careers as solo consultants. They started the Rochester Professional Consultants Network. Ever since, RPCN has been an active source of learning, networking, and mutual support for skilled people to explore, start, and practice a consulting business.
Those early participants formed the RPCN Board and elected Ted Fraser as our first president, with Roger Vickery as vice-president/president-elect. (Election is for a 3-year commitment: Vice-president, then President, then Executive Past President). For a number of years, the board met in board members’ homes. (A full list of presidents can be found on the RPCN website). The Board developed bylaws and Board Operating Procedures. Later, Mary Anne Shew (the only two-term RPCN president, 2002 & 2005) led many sessions for extensive bylaw updates. During the 1990s RPCN qualified as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization. In 2019, we achieved 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
Friday 8:00 AM Meetings: (Our major vehicle for serving members. These are open to the public)
Presentations: RPCN started with two per month (8:00 AM on the second and fourth Fridays). The second Friday was a “Presentation, Panel or Workshop” with topics of interest to consultants and small businesses. The fourth Friday was “Self & Services” where three members would have 15 minutes each to tell about their consulting business. Later, “Self & Services” was replaced with a “presentation, panel or workshop format. Long-term locations have included: Brighton Town Hall, NeighborWorks, and now the Five Star Bank.
Business Forum: In February 1995, president Bob Lurz started the RPCN Breakfast Club (now ‘Business Forum” on the third Friday of each month. The concept was an “informal board of directors” for solo consultants. Members and visitors alike may ask questions about their businesses (or businesses-to-be). Attending people freely offer their advice, answers, and suggestions. The Forum startup-team generated a back-up list of discussion topics, just in case there weren’t enough questions. There have always been enough questions, so we never used the list.
We started our Breakfast Club at the Princess Restaurant at Brighton 12-corners (since-razed). Other locations were Charlie’s restaurant in Penfield, Nutcracker, Penfield Wegman’s, and it is now at Pittsford Library.
With Bob Lurz facilitating, the Business Forum draws 20-40 attendees and is a form of member mutual support. It is also an RPCN recruiting mechanism as visitors get to know RPCN members in a friendly and helpful way.
Technical Forum: Randy Anway started the “Tech Group” circa 1996, modeled on the Business Forum. On first-Fridays, It addresses questions about computers, phones, software, the internet, etc. and is a good way for RPCN members to help other members (and non-members) with their technical challenges. When Randy moved out of town, Steve Royal took over as a facilitator and continues today.
Simon Vision Consulting Program Looking for Clients Needing Consulting Help
Due to the success of prior Simon Vision Consulting programs, the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business (Simon) and RPCN plan to continue the program this coming spring and fall and we will not only be looking for RPCN members to mentor student project teams but are also looking for clients with projects for the student teams to provide assistance.
I have written of this ongoing program before, but to update you, RPCN has been supplying mentors to Simon Vision Consulting teams at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business (Simon) for the past 4 semesters. 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 6 - 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 last 6-8 weeks, longer projects are 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.
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.
Have You Heard an Inspiring Speaker?
Since 2013 RPCN has been on a quest to “Learn from the Best”. We have brought in speakers who have made their mark in various aspects of business. We find many presenters through networking and at conferences, workshops, trade shows, universities, and professional organizations. Through these resources, we have engaged some very stimulating, insightful and inspiring speakers. Members have suggested a topic of interest or a speaker that turned out to be a real inspiration. Presenters have mentioned that speaking at RPCN is so interactive, they actually learned from the group.
In the recent few years, we have had some marvelous presenters on a variety of topical areas.
Business – of– Business
Marketing & Sales
Computer & Software Skills
We have been inviting members to participate more broadly in the programs.
Have you identified a topic that we seem to have missed in our offerings?
Have you been to a presentation or a conference where a presenter did such a good job, that you believe RPCN should hear him or her?
Have you been so inspired by a topic but you thought you could better?
Would you like to cover a topic of your own?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, as a member, RPCN may be the place to make your suggestion, recommend a speaker or a topic, or try out your material to hone your speaking skills.
We’ll even give you feedback as you compose your presentation, slides, and speech.
To listen to an RBJ podcast in which RPCN's David Powe and Laurie Enos talk about our great organization, click here.
Today is Your Last Chance to Register!
Join RPCN as we celebrate the holiday season with our annual Holiday Party! Each year we get together to network and have some fun. This year our Holiday Party will be held on Monday, December 9, 2019, at Valicia’s Ristorante, 2155 Long Pond Rd, Rochester, 14606.
We start at 6:00 p.m. with cocktails (cash bar) and a delicious buffet dinner at 6:30 p.m. Our buffet consists of Prime Rib, Chicken French, Seafood Alfredo, Roasted Potatoes, Fresh Salad Greens, Rolls & Butter, and Coffee & Tea.
The event costs $25 for RPCN members and $30 for non-members. Register here by Monday, December 2, 2019.
Upcoming RPCN Events
Visit the RPCN website for a list of all upcoming events.
We now have the business book collection of our longtime member, Dick Blazey. He passed away earlier this year. There are 97 books in the collection. I will need help to process these books, i.e. put on labels, pockets, and cards. Also, I will need help to shelve them. Please let me know if and when you can help. You don’t have to be on the Library Committee to do this. I’d like to thank Mark Fling for retrieving the books and cataloging them.
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 January/February 2020 calendar ad sheet is December 13, 2019. Sign up for your ad here.
A note from our copyeditor:
Good day, RPCN members:
As you know, I “pre-edit” the RPCN 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.