updated: December 14th, 2006 / Ross Johnson / 2 Comments

Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce Year Ender

While many cities have a Chamber of Commerce to help insulate and improve the local business market, I have always gotten the feeling that the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce was an extra good fortune for those who choose Ann Arbor as their business home. Last week I attended my first Chamber of Commerce year end event, and was overly impressed with the quality of the party.

As far as I could gather, the event was just a basic “thank you, have fun, happy holidays.” By attending you received two drink tickets, access to great food from local business restaurants, and access to a room stuffed nearly elbow to elbow full of locals.

I would say that everyone goes to network and run into old friends, colleges, and clients, but that seems too formal. The atmosphere was much more open, free spirited, and easy going. There seemed to be no hard or juxtaposed feelings regardless of age, ethnicity, industry, or gender.

While I don’t think I met any potential clients at the party (which was my original intention), I did no doubt meet plenty of interesting people that were great to talk to and good to know. Many business elites stress networking as the number one most important factor in succeeding, and they will cite famous business icons such as Donald Trump and say “All he did was hang out with the right crowd, everything else followed.”

This may be true, and in the back of my head it does seem important, but most important was that I had fun and enjoyed it. It is getting to the point where I enjoy the business aspect of 3.7 as much as the passion I have for design and code. The problem now becoming, if I do expand at some point how much will I get to do of both? Hopefully I can strike that balance.

2 thoughts Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce Year Ender

  1. It’s good to hear that you had a better time then expected. I myself have been thinking about joining the commerce, but didn’t really see that I needed too just being a freelance/contract web developer. I think its great that we have things around town like the IT Zone that us younger tech guys can network with the people that have been around town for years.

    Also good to hear that you didn’t feel any type hard or juxtaposed feelings about being a young entrepreneur. I sometimes feel at the IT Zone that the older people don’t think we know what they know and kind of give that impression. When really its young people like us that are doing the most innovative techniques and passion for the web.

    I work with a lot of the web firms around here doing freelance/contract work and from what I see from you, is that your a step a head of them already on the knowledge of what it takes to make the best usable/accessible/standards based sites. What they have are the connections and networks that bring them their clients.

    Just keep on the networking and I’m sure you will start to get the local area businesses/groups/organizations to see that you do things right and soon become one of the more recognized web firms here in Ann Arbor.

    As for becoming more of the business end, well thats just going to happen and your going to have to realize that you can’t do everything and become decent size firm. I’m not sure how big you would like to be, but its going to come to a point where your going to have to hire on people to do what you do now and you make sure that they have the skills and passions that you do and also that they follow the standard you have set forth in your company. If you don’t then you wont be able to make as much and develop as many sites, because you can only create so many sites while being CEO,Developer,Designer,Bookeeper, and so on.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t continue your passion for coding and designing just maybe less for the clients and more for playing with your own designs,blog and tutorials

  2. Very true Dan, and thanks for the well written response.

    Networking is no doubt the cornerstone of most web design companies right now. There are no “big wigs” that are well known outside of the industry – many people go to A or B company based on recommendation, knowing them, or maybe an adwords advert.

    This is essentially how I was able to go from a freelancer to full time, because I had a lot of good contacts in the local real estate development sector. Because of that I have/and am currently working on a lot of great projects.

    Thanks again for the comment, it was a great read, and hope to see you at the next Refresh Detroit meeting!


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