Chicago - Business Tips
There are very few destinations in the United States that attracts business travelers quite like Chicago. The city boasts the largest convention center in the country, McCormick Place, and has the transit, the hotel rooms and the Fortune 500 companies in place to justify the number of conventions and business meetings it holds each year. The economy here grosses somewhere around $450 billion each year, so it goes without saying that the business community here needs to be of reasonable size to create that kind of wealth. A recent Mastercard business study named Chicago as one of the top five most important business centers in the world, so if you are heading to The Windy City for a convention or just for the meeting of your life, here are a few tips you can keep in mind while you are in town.
Although the Chicago Stock Exchange doesn’t get nearly the publicity as the one in New York, it is an incredibly important piece of the American economy. Along with a stock exchange, dozens of important banks and financial institutions call Chicago home. The Chicago Stock Exchange isn’t much of a tourist attraction, but it still an interesting building to look at from the outside and is a must see for anyone who finds the US economy interesting. Despite the harsh winters here, Chicago boasts the second largest labor pool in the United States with well over four million workers employed. Chicago is also the nationwide center for tech jobs, which is, understandably, the envy of the rest of the nation.
Alongside all of the high tech jobs, Chicago retains its reputation as one of the biggest meat processing centers in the world. This tradition was started over a century ago as farmers throughout the Midwest would bring their cattle and crops to sell in Chicago, and thanks to the myriad of rail lines, much of the nation’s meat and grain passed through this city on the way to tabletops around the world. While that percentage isn’t quite what it used to be, many food companies still call Chicago home and is one of the reasons why this city is known for its high quality restaurants.
McCormick Place isn’t just the largest convention center in the United States, it ranks as the third largest in the world at the time of this writing. The building makes use of four buildings that are connected by hallways so visitors never have to walk outside in either the freezing cold winter or the hot and humid summer. This convention center is so large, there are often several events happening at once. Chicago may still trail slightly behind Orlando and Las Vegas for the total number of conventions hosted, but no city does it bigger or better than Chicago.
As a business traveler to Chicago, it is vitally important that you take some time to see what this city has to offer. Many a family vacation has started because mom or dad went to Chicago for a convention.
While many Americans tend to be less formal in terms of dress in the office, you can still expect to see many companies in Chicago expect fairly formal attire. A shirt and tie are the minimum, and many companies expect three piece suits at business meetings.
Greeting Someone in Chicago
As with most of the country, a firm handshake is the preferred greeting. Don’t hesitate to address business contacts using their first names.
Business Hours and Banking
Business hours vary by the industry, but you can typically expect companies to be open from nine a.m. to six p.m. throughout the week. Most banks are open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., though many have additional hours available throughout the week and on weekends. All most all banks and businesses are closed on state and federal holidays as well as Sundays.
Smoking is almost universally prohibited in offices, restaurants, hotels, and attractions. Check with each for designated smoking areas, as there are some legal penalties for smoking where you’re not supposed to.