Your competition isn’t (necessarily) the enemy

I enjoy attending local events and meetups, and lately I’ve been going to more of them.  It’s a great place to meet people, learn new ideas and I just like an excuse to get out of the house from time to time.

When I run into others that are in my field, it’s typically a great thing.  The entire crowd at any given WordPress Meetup could be considered “competition” to one another (we’re all web developers trying to make a living), but it doesn’t feel that way at all.  We share knowledge and ideas, and help people solve their problems.  It’s wonderful.

I’ve found the same to be true of other meetings; when I meet fellow web developers we typically exchange info and keep up with each other.  Building that kind of community around your business can be very helpful and rewarding.

Yesterday was weird, though.  I went to the Marietta Business Association for the first time, as I’ve heard it’s a good group (and it is).  Before lunch I was hanging out talking to folks and was chatting with a guy that works for an I.T./web company.  As soon as he found out what I did, he said “Oh, that’s pretty much what we do too” and was clearly done.  In other words “I can’t sell you my stuff, so I’m wasting my time“.  It was quite surprising, and more than a little bit rude.  We swapped business cards and he took off.

After the meeting, I went home and emailed the folks that I met to say thanks for their time.  For example, one woman owns a catering company and will be providing lunch at the meeting next month, so I simply said that it was nice to meet her and I was looking forward to a great lunch next month.  Since I typically email everyone I get cards from, I emailed the I.T./web guy as well — something like “nice to meet you, if I have a client with IT needs I’ll certainly keep you in mind”.

I guess that was enough to jumpstart him, so he sent back a lengthy response telling me exactly what kind of client he’s looking for, all of the things they can do, how great they are, etc.  He’s clearly a sales guy, and maybe that kind of technique works, but seemed awfully pushy to me.  I much prefer working with folks, learning from them, and knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are.  In the case of this guy, all I know is that he’s a rude, pushy salesman that does I.T.  I won’t be sending anyone his direction.

On the other hand, here are some great people in the Atlanta area that I’ve met over the past few months that might be valuable to some of you:

The list goes on and on.  While I’m sure it doesn’t work this way in every industry, I’ve found it invaluable to connect with these people and many others like them, and I’m looking forward to meeting plenty more in the near future.  If you’re in the Atlanta area and you’re into WordPress, come check out Kathy’s meetup, Marna’s meetup, or a new one that I’m starting in a few weeks.

If WordPress isn’t your thing (or you’re not in the area), look for a Meetup or other group near you and start connecting with like-minded folks today!


  1. says

    Hi Mickey,
    I cannot agree with you more! I think we met the same IT guy :). Thanks for the reference. What I found to work well with business associations is to get involved in one or more of their committees. You get to meet the real movers-and-shakers and can give back to your community. I’m involved in KBA (Kennesaw Business Association). Great group and I serve on a few committees. 

    I always enjoy reading your insightful posts. Thanks.


  2. John says

    Understand also that professionals have different agendas, priorities, & limits on time & money (gas as well).  Many times I have more than one event, meeting, or meetup going on at or near the same time. It can be quite difficult deciding on which event to spend the most time networking at. I’ve seen plenty of folks who just try to speak w/ as many people as possible, thinking quantity over quality I guess. Maybe he wasn’t good at conveying what was going on at the time. Lots of people in dire situations too w/ their business.

    Also you just have to be wary of potential scam or con artists out there.

  3. says

    This post makes me think of that scene in “A Beautiful Mind” where Russell Crowe’s character finally realizes the secret to good economics. “Every individual does what is best for the whole.”

    I think the days of competition are ending.  Too many small companies are competing with the big-dogs these days, thanks to the internet.  
    Ministers need to realize they aren’t in competition with other ministers.  They can grow, and equip each other.  Iron sharpens iron.

  4. says

    Mickey, I love this post! And not only because you so graciously mentioned my name. :)

    I love meeting fellow copywriters (my so-called competitors) and have developed very mutually beneficial relationships with them. I think there is enough business to go around, and everyone has their unique skill sets or niches. I look forward to attending one of your Meetups soon! 

  5. says

    Agreed! I prefer collaborative over competitive. Ryan, I like “iron sharpens iron”; I’m going to use that!

    After being in business for awhile, you tend to create a niche or a demographic that you attract and prefer to work within. We start businesses to work with and for people we like but also to help the community as a whole. If I’m not a best match for a client, I will introduce them to someone who is a better match. I’m not ashamed; I’m proud to be of service.

    I’ve worked with Mickey Mellen and Ali Green as well as Ken Cook and Kathy Drewien. I’ve also hired Marc Connor and Suzanne Chace all of whom I’ve met through meetups or business groups. All techs all good. :)

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