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My Year-Long Lesson in How Nashville Does Business

December 7, 2016 Damon Maida

 

city-936398_640I just celebrated one year of moving to Nashville from New York City. That’s right, without me, there would have been only 99 new people arriving in Nashville on September 30, 2015. After 18 years in The Big Apple, I was thrilled to be making a major change, moving to Music City with my wife and young son – and starting a new chapter of my career at the Bradford Group.

The list of superlatives and recent rankings according to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce are impressive. Nashville is one of the top real estate markets in the U.S. and a top city for job seekers and freelancers, and Tennessee is one of 2016’s top states for doing business.

Landing at the Bradford Group has been a blessing, as the past year has been a crash course in how business works in Nashville. Working in public relations has given me an opportunity to work up-close with clients (and the reporters who cover them) in fields ranging from banking to health care, executive coaching and more. And, my hall pass has allowed me to get inside the boardrooms at some of the city’s fastest growing businesses to learn what makes this booming city tick.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

This is no small town – Coming from New York, it’s easy to think that any other place in the U.S. is – by comparison – a small town. Now, Nashville might not have the population of Manhattan, but the energy and buzz of Music City is undeniable and the entrepreneurial spirit is more alive here than any other place I’ve lived. And, the nation has taken notice with Nashville becoming a draw for entrepreneurs looking to open a business or expand their operations.

You’ve got to get involved. Whether it’s attending a professional mixer, or just taking the extra time to speak to someone you’re meeting at backyard barbecue, Nashville business thrives on relationships.

Everyone knows somebody who knows somebody – This may be no small town, but it sure can feel like it. There’s a level of etiquette here that I haven’t experienced elsewhere. Whenever you meet someone, odds are they know someone you do, or have worked with someone you have. With strong civic organizations like EO Nashville and an active Rotary Club, networking is easy and connections abound. And remember – be conscious of what you say – you never know who’s listening!

Community is everything – You’ve got to get involved. Whether it’s attending a professional mixer, or just taking the extra time to speak to someone you’re meeting at backyard barbecue, Nashville business thrives on relationships and it’s important to invest your time in the community. Coming from a city where it was easy to get lost in the mix, Nashville is extremely welcoming to anyone who wants to get involved, and it’s no surprise that the city has been named one of the top ten friendliest cities in America. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with folks from all lines of business, and my colleagues and friends participate in everything from pro-bono public relations for a local dog shelter to volunteering for Musicians on Call. The more you dig in, the more welcome you feel, and there seems to be room for everyone.

Authenticity rules – There’s very little room in Nashville for smoke and mirrors. Much like a big city songwriter who tries to write songs about growing up on a farm, reporters in particular can smell an inauthentic story a mile away. And, businesses that try to be something they’re not don’t last very long. The number of thriving (and growing) small businesses in town is astounding. This is a city of entrepreneurs, where people have the chance to discover what they do really well – and then sell it, whether it’s healthcare services, or even making one of the best tacos you’ll find northeast of the border.

Following the business news cycle in Nashville is never dull. There are almost as many executive moves and expansion announcements as there are cranes on the skyline, and it’s never a slow news day. I’m excited about what the next year will bring and about getting to know my adopted hometown even better.

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