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Here’s Why Your Industry Competitors Aren’t (Necessarily) Your Enemy

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Local events and meetups are 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 in my field, it’s typically a great thing.

Competitors Can Actually Be Collaborators

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. We share knowledge and ideas and help people solve their problems.

I’ve found the same to be true of other meetings. When I meet fellow web developers or marketing agencies, we typically exchange contact information and keep in touch. Building a community around your business can be helpful and rewarding.

An Awkward Exception

This isn’t always the case.

At one networking event, I was talking to folks and was met a guy who 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 talking with me. 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 emailed the folks 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, and what services they offer. He’s clearly a sales guy, and maybe that kind of technique works, but seemed awfully pushy to me.  

I 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 who does I.T.  I won’t be sending anyone his direction.

Your Competition Can Be Your Referal Base

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. 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.

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!

About the Author

Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

View Mickey's Profile

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