Due to an influx in technology, Chicago is awash with small to midsize businesses trying to make their mark on the city. These companies may have great reputations in their home cities, but doing business in Chicago is its own beast. The key to setting yourself apart as a business owner in Chi-Town is to go the extra mile. Not only should you be providing top-notch services, but you should also be a center of influence. The longer you spend in the Windy City, the more you’ll begin to realize it’s a city founded upon community, tight-knit neighborhoods and personal recommendations. With all of that in mind, here’s how to get down to business the Chicago way.
Build an authentic network. Your network is a direct representation of you and your business, so it’s important to cultivate your professional circle with care. But how do you build an impeccable network? Make it personal. It’s obvious when someone is networking just to add another connection to their LinkedIn profile. Chicagoans build networks on authentic relationships which is why you need to not only take a vested interest in a person’s business, but also them as a person. When your intentions are genuine, your network will begin to fall into place.
Offer up your network. The first step in creating lifelong working relationships with a client or someone in your professional circle is to provide the best service within your industry. From there, you set yourself apart from your competitors by offering up the impeccable professionals you have in your network. Identify people in your circle who are great at what they do and refer them to people who need those services. In Chicago, the best way to get business is to send business, but you have to be intentional. Creating a solid reputation for you and your business is a marathon not a sprint, and there’s no better way to create a lasting impression than making a thoughtful introduction.
Show up. Connections continually need to be maintained. Like we mentioned above, you won’t get anywhere in Chicago by creating surface-level relationships. Keeping a strong professional circle is more than just referring business to each other — you have to make yourself available. Represent your brand by looking up events and places your network is attending or hosting and show up. If you become an active supporter of your network, you can expect that same support to be reciprocated when you need it.
Utilize these tips to make the most of your business’ presence in Chicago, and if you’re in need of a new office space to get your move started, let us know how we can help.
Is your body language impacting your success? Absolutely. Here are the Body Language Basics.
A good portion of interpretation of what has been said is based on tone of voice and largely body language. Albert Mehrabin, Guru of nonverbal communication, said ” 55% impact of our message is body language, 38% is tone, and 7% is delivered by words”. Do not let your body betray you.
The government uses a variety of lie detection techniques including voice diagnostics, blinking rapidity, and body positioning (aka body language) to determine truthfulness. While your clients, business contacts, and colleagues are unlikely to come equipped with this machinery, the way you conduct yourself physically is very important.
First and foremost consider your face and hands.
A genuine smile starts at the eyes and continues down to the mouth. If you don’t have a thousand watt smile or are not keen on a big grin try out a variation on the smising (smiling with your eyes) technique coined by Tyra Banks. Think of something that makes you happy and flash those pearly whites. Now close your mouth and you’ve completed the smise.
Remember to relax your jaw. A flexed jaw is a primary indicator of tension.
Relaxation comes from a feeling of groundedness. Why are drinks always provided at business meetings and networking events? People feel a sense of security when they have something to hold onto. Notice that even after a drink has been consumed frequently the glass will not be relinquished.
Keep your hands loosely by your sides. Closed fists or fidgety hands are an abrupt indicator of anxiety and tension. If you feel unable to relax your hands, hold onto a pen or a drink. Do not clasp your hands above your belt. While this may have been taught as a serious pose it comes off as insecure or untrustworthy.
If you are standing, maintain proper posture with shoulders back and drawn in. This denotes confidence and also relaxation. Paired with a smile (smise or otherwise), this formula is powerful.
If you are in a situation where you are sitting take up space. Psychologically speaking if you make yourself smaller you could be insecure. Taking up space (legs slightly spread apart) shows confidence. Rest your hands lightly on your thighs.
To indicate interest, point your feet towards the person to whom you are speaking. Additionally, imitating the body language of this person will make them feel comfortable. For instance, if the person you’re speaking with pushes their hair back or tucks it behind an ear occasionally, try imitating the motion nonchalantly.
The phrase “actions speak louder than words” is especially true when it comes to body language. Being articulate is important, but be sure your body is articulating the same message.
For more information or how to apply this to networking, check out our Networking Tips and Tricks post.