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.
First, 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!
Actually, “That means not jumping at every new trend.” is an understatement! Forget about jumping to new trends – it’s actually a prohibitive environment to make you jump to a new trends here. And new trendsetters after a while move to the coasts anyways.
There are a number of trends set in Chicago, just not as many as in New York and LA.
Excellent Article. Thank you for taking the time to let the readers know about Chicago that way. I have only been there a couple times, but I agree…it does feel as if it sets it’s own trend and is not in a big hurry to jump on the next fly by night ship that sails on by. I appreciate that. My family and I are considering moving to Chicago. Thanks again
Thanks for your thoughts on Chicago! When will you be moving here?
Andy- great article. Chicago is different and unique, but that shouldn’t discourage entrepreneurs. There is amazing business and technology talent here. Those Midwestern values mean that vendors and investors are unlikely to be drawn in by flashy presentations and fast talkers. However, when they are drawn in, the relationships are deeper and longer lasting.
I definitely did not want entrepreneurs to be discouraged by coming to Chicago. My point was in displaying our differences. The exact Midwestern values you pointed out. We are not a small New York or LA, Chicago is it’s own unique city.
I like your observations. As the author of “Turn Your Business Card Into Business” I particularly appreciate your reference to face-to-face contact. That is the essence of my book. The importance of personal contact. Ten minutes face to face can establish a long term relationship in a way that 100 emails never will.
Face to face contact can definitely help. I generally will meet a client once, but limit face to face in order to get work done for clients. It is a balance.
By the way, I think this post is in reference to the https://andynathan.net/2012/10/my-system-for-avoiding-people-face-to-face/ post? Correct?