Speaking of Chambers of Commerce…….
Having just moved to a new area and having to start yet again networking in the area from scratch. I decided to not let any grass grow and hit the local or rather inter-town/inter-city chamber that Southern CT calls its own.
I attended a mixer last night in Mystic that was an interesting experience to say the least. About a dozen “Internet Media” people cruised the crowd, I’ll call them land sharks for lack of a more appropriate term. Dark pressed suits, slicked back hair, the hard sell approach with the polished, in your face elevator speech, hungry for business and jumping down the throats of potential clients who showed any signs of weakness. They actually reminded me of Sysco salesmen. (not to be pick specifically on Sysco but there is much similarity especially in the hard sell approach).
It was a disturbing experience to introduce myself to a new member of their chamber who just recently bought an inn and restaurant in the area. When I introduced myself and said what I did for a living he immediately went on the defensive and said he is very happy with his site designer and current marketing etc. etc. etc.
I was somewhat taken aback and said to him, I wasn’t trying to sell him anything, I just wanted to say hi, being a culinary grad who had heard some very nice comments about his restaurant from other people I had been talking to at the mixer so far, and that many of my very good friends were innkeepers and I found them in general to be a great bunch of people.
He immediately relaxed and explained that ever since he and his wife had bought the inn they were constantly deluged by phone calls, emails and faxes from internet marketers hungry for business. At chamber and other networking events they circled them like hungry wolfpacks, “buy this product”, “use our services”, “we will make you #1”, yada yada yada.
I quickly ran into several other people who were experiencing similar things and after a few more introductions to people was almost afraid to say what I did for a business. I felt like I had a big scarlet letter attached to my nametag.
It brings to mind now that it seems like so many thousands online are internet marketing experts, gurus and “go to” guys for everyone’s marketing needs. The interesting thing is most online people, myself included, view these people as non-experts. People just jumping on the bandwagon to make a quick buck on the latest fads.
It’s a mite bit scary now that people who don’t spend a boatload of time online are also now starting to view online marketing people in a bad view. 6 years ago when I started my own business I quickly learned not to introduce myself as someone that did web development (among other things) as everyone, including someone’s 12 year old son and the weird guy living next door in the neighbors basement did web development. Saying IT development and marketing had a certain cachet to it that differentiated myself.
Now in a field that seems to have become oversaturated with internet marketers I feel like I need to re-brand myself so I don’t fall into the same category as “twitter for money, twitter for friends, make millions in under a month…..you to can be an internet marketing expert”…. SNARK!