Chicago Business Neighborhoods, Villages, and Towns

Today we are going to talk about the Chicago business neighborhoods, villages, and towns that make up not only Chicago proper, but the entire Chicagoland area. It is amazing how much different each area of Chicago is to itself and how much those differences translate into different marketing strategies. So, for our final foray into the Chicago Business Week we are going to take a look at these little havens.

Chicago business neighborhoods

Chicago Business Neighborhoods

First, let’s break down the hallowed Chicago neighborhood. Chicago neighborhoods have been around for decades. In the 1970’s Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development went door knocking in order to determine what neighborhood everyone in the city was living in. While not exact they broke down these answers and the modern neighborhoods that you see today were created(See map to the left).

Within most neighborhood’s you will find that they each have their own neighborhood chamber, and more importantly a very distinctive feel. It is hard to describe if you have never been to the Windy City, but if you go into the South Shore neighborhood you will find a completely different look and feel to the neighborhood then in Lincoln Park.

Or even a different feel between Lincoln Park or nearby Bucktown. The difference between these two neighborhoods is just a mile, but they feel a lot further away in the feel to them. You have some of the yuppies in Lincoln Park, while Bucktown takes on a more artistic, community feel to it.

What this also means is that you have to do business in these two very distinct neighborhood your entire look and approach needs to be different. In Lincoln Park you might consider dressing up a little bit to network versus Bucktown where depending upon the crowd you are looking to reach slacks and a dress shirt might be overdressed.

However, these differences in Chicago business are just beginning when you also factor in the nearby villages and towns that make up Chicago’s suburbs.

Chicago Business In The Suburbs

Quick what is the difference between Oak Park and Oak Forrest?

If you answer is one has wild vegetation and the other is maintained than unfortunately you would not be correct in this instance. One is at the heart of the near western suburbs of Chicago and the other is in the South Suburbs. Actually, Oak Park has almost as storied a past as Chicago. It is the birthplace of Ernest Hemmingway and has the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the world.

Now, as to the different Chicago suburbs keep in mind that they are generally broken down by area. So, you have the South, Southwest, West, Near West, Northwest, and North Suburbs. A Northwest suburb, like Arlington Heights where I went to high school is not surprisingly northwest of the city.

What you will find is that the suburbs are generally more alike to each other in how they operate. It is more universal how to approach the different suburban networking groups whether in the West suburbs of Naperville and Wheaton or the south suburbs of Orland Park and River Forrest.Plus, all of the different villages and cities have their little main street core where the town was founded. All the little shops will be around there. Then you have the chains spread throughout the town.

Either way, suburban or city, you need to know who you are connecting with others for business, because it does make a difference to the many different neighborhoods, villages, and towns that make up Chicago business.

On a final note, I hope you enjoyed this tour of Chicago Business. I know it is a little bit different than our normally scheduled program, but I thought a week in the life of the city where I was born, grew up, and live right now would be a fun adventure. So, next week no more Chicago business, because we are strictly back to the fun world of social networking, internet marketing, and SEO.

Chicago Business: Face To Face

Chicago business handshakeChicago business owners have a much higher insistence on doing face to face business than other business owners in other parts of the country. Now, this is not to say that all business must be done face to face. However, a large part of the Chicago culture is meeting with someone to discuss how they can help you with their XYZ product.

That is why in this installment of the Chicago Business week series we are laying out today some strategies to get additional clients through a face to face effort. Everything from how to connect with the person over phone or email to setting up appointments and finally connecting with them face to face.

Chicago Business

Face To Face 5 Step

Here is a five step process that you can use to connect with prospects in Chicago. I have done this before successfully myself. The key is to build a profitable relationship, not to make a sale.

Step 1: Connect with someone via LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Build a relationship with these connections via social networking. Then after you feel that the two of you have a good relationship ask to take the connection offline.

Step 2:  Have a phone conversation. Especially if it is two people in Chicago then this is a local call.

Step 3:  During The Phone Call set up an appointment to meet face to face.

Step 4: This when you can start selling the person on your products and services. However, it will not be much of a sales process at this point, because if you have created any level of connection at this point it will be more of a conversation.

Step 5: Once the sale is complete you might have to stop in from time to time, but with a lot of industries you will not have to be there to sell them every time there is a new product, because it is a conversation you can figure out over the phone.

And that ladies and gentlemen is how you take social networking into your Chicago businesses on a face to face selling scenario.

Chicago Business Nuances

Chicago business owners have their own little nuances about how to operate business. From differing regulations and government to the best approaches in business. Here are some of my observations over 5 years of networking of Chicago business dealings and networking.

starting a business in Chicago businessFirst, there is Chicago and then there is Albany Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, The Loop, Hyde Park, and a whole bevy of other neighborhoods around Chicago. In fact, Chicago is not so much one city as it an amalgamation of different neighborhoods that make up Chicago. Therefore networking in Lakeview can be a whole lot different than networking in the loop. Yes, you will have some overlap circles there, but you will probably see a lot of fresh faces if you go from one neighborhood to the other.

That is partially why each neighborhood has it’s own chamber. While there is a Chicagoland Chamber the different neighborhood chambers are great for merchants looking to connect with their peers in the area.

Second,  Chicago and it’s laws are kinda of funny, but I think it’s kinda sad! Chicago along with the state of Illinois have some of the highest sales taxes in the country. That would be OK if this money was actually going to something useful, however, with the CTA failing, schools ranked 48th in the nation, and all sorts of financial debacles happening at the state level it does make things a little harder to operate as a business owner. Note: This is the big negative. The rest are going to be more cheery, but mama said never to lie!

Third, I will address this in more detail tomorrow, but Chicago is a face to face business area. While it is very possible to do remote business with some owners here in Chicago, more than likely you will need to meet most business owners at least once face to face. They want to make sure you are real and someone they can reach when a challenge arises. Once you have done that you do not need to meet every time there is a decision.

Fourth, there is definitely a midwest values approach to Chicago business. While we are a fast paced metropolis like Los Angeles and New York, we also pride ourselves on not getting into all the craziness that you see on coasts. That means not jumping at every new trend. It also means a commitment to respecting others and their time. I am not saying that other cities do not have these values, but Chicago definitely has it’s own take on how to behave in business.

So, there you have it! You are now ready to go off and work out your Chicago Business nuances in order to create valuable relationships in the Windy City!

Chicago Business History

In our journey throughout Chicago business this week to me there is nothing more intriguing to me than the Chicago history of business. There are a number of great stories and amazing acts of inspiration that fill the minds of budding entrepreneurs to this day. So, let’s explore Chicago business and the wild and crazy history that it has had.

Chicago was originally settled in 1776 by Jean Baptiste Du Sable who lived in a small settlement around the Chicago river for about 20 years as a trader. Throughout the first half of the 19th century pioneers started to settle in greater and greater numbers into Chicago as they realized it’s potential at the mouth of the Great Lakes and the Chicago river which lead to the Mississippi. It was and still is a gateway from the East coast to the midwest.

It also just goes to show that almost all cities grow up for two very distinct purposes. 1. They have some type of mineral, food source, or other valuable goods (Eg. California-gold, Alaska-oil, New England-fishing) or 2. They are in the middle of a transportation hub that makes business and travel easier (Eg. Chicago-trains and waterways, London-river, Miam-port). Very rarely does a city become large for no reason in the middle of nowhere without any reason.

As Chicago developed a number of famous personalities would also develop who would help this city build out as the city we know of today.

First, you have the visionary business owners such as Robert McCormick who with his father Cyrus developed the McCormick reaper, Marshall Fields, Montgomery Scott, George Pullman, and many others helped develop Chicago into a manufacturing and retail pioneer. This was where the first mail order catalogs were sent from and where the first refrigerated meat trains, created by Gustavus Swift, were created in 1872.

You also had the famous meat packing plants themselves where meat was shipped across the country from the Chicago trainyards that still cross through the city center. It was also these same meat packing plant’s that inspired The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. This graphic novel helped bring about the progressive era in Chicago and brought about the first food safety laws in the country as the public was horrified by how their meat was made and packaged.

The public might have missed the boat, however, on how the poor were treated at the time, but labor unions would eventually change how manufacturing worked in Chicago. As they grew stronger through the early part of the 20th century a change in how Chicago operated led to more safety restrictions and a better quality of life for those workers.

I am sure my great grandfather Julius Gurewitz would have appreciated additional changes in labor laws as those early factory years were extremely taxing (See Picture Below).  He would later open a grocery store and my grandfather Mel would run a truck for Murphy Butter & Egg where he worked until his retirement 40 years later as Vice President. He still has some great stories about this time. On another note, my grandma Arlene worked for Marshal Fields for a few years when I was a kid. My mother-in-law works there now as well.

Arlene and Mel Gurewitz Wedding photo

L-R: Great Grandpa and Grandma Ben and Sophie Crown next to my Grandparents Mel and Arlene Gurewitz(wedding day) next to Great Grandma and Grandpa Minnie and Julius

In the 20th century even more entrepreneurs would take the places of those pioneers of the 19th century. Business owners, such as Ray Kroc, visionary owner of McDonalds, and Paul Galvin, Motorola founder, were just some of the many entrepreneurs who would help Chicago business in the 20th century.

Additionally, while the railroads were needed less and less in the modern age for transportation with the advent of cars and airplanes, Chicago managed to maintain a foothold here with their O’Hare and Midway airports. O’Hare has been the busiest airport in the world for the past 30 years or more.

So, with all this innovation what will we discuss next tomorrow in our series of Chicago Business? You will have to wait to see! In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this trip through Chicago business history lane.

Chicago Business Week

I was thinking about this recently and decided that I have never really had a week where I just focused on Chicago business. I have had a few basic pieces around the idea of Chicago business, but I thought it was time to go more in depth into how Chicago business operates.

Chicago Business By The BeanFirst, before we delve into Chicago this week I want to say that while this post is mainly for those who are in Chicago, there are still probably going to be a number of applicable lessons that apply elsewhere. So, stay tuned! If not for that, then for the cool graphics and history lessons that I will discuss.

Second, before I get into the Chicago business week in review I wanted to spend a little time just telling you my history in the Windy City. It goes back to the 1880’s when my great-great-grandparents started immigrating to the United States. Over the next 50 or so years my entire family made their way to Chicago. The last of my family to arrive here was my Grandmother Fran Nathan who came from Canada when she was a kid around the late 1920’s.

Obviously, I have a lot of roots in the city. I find it amazing how inadvertently when I moved in with my wife into the Albany Park area of Chicago we were just six blocks from where my mom grew up on Bryn Mawr and Kimball. I pass by Von Steuben regularly where she went to high school.

Third, the reason for writing about this series is to not only explore all the amazing possibilities for Chicago business, but also to uncover all of the different aspects of Chicago business that make it unique. I will be delving into some of the items that I have discussed in the past, such as Three Rules To Starting A Business In Chicago.

In the end, I think you will see how much Chicago business has grown up over the years in business, plus apply some of the lessons to your networking, sales, and marketing wherever you are in the world. Because while I would love to tell you that all business is local, I think my blog would probably disagree with that thought.

Chicago Business Week Schedule

Tuesday: Chicago Business History

Wednesday: Chicago Business Nuances

Thursday: Chicago Business Face To Face

Friday: Chicago Business Neighborhoods, Villages, and Towns

So, get ready because tomorrow we will be diving in head first into the Chicago Business history as my subdued former history teacher self takes over the conversation.