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!