Malcolm X. Archibald knows a lot about real estate. He knew little about online marketing.
That changed on Wednesday as the 24-year-old real estate agent and budding entrepreneur joined dozens of local people for a corporate-led crash course on how to build a small business in the digital age.
Archibald was one of many current and aspiring small business people from throughout the state to visit the downtown branch of the public library for Grow with Google, a free, daylong series of lectures, workshops, and one-on-one counselling sessions about the many services provided by the Silicon Valley search engine behemoth, Google.
The events were the second Connecticut stop in a yearlong, 50-state tour of public libraries that Google has embarked on in 2019 through a new collaboration with the American Library Association.
Two dozen young, enthusiastic, white-T-shirted Google employees filled the library’s first-floor Ives Squared space and basement conference room from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., providing free tutorials on how to use Google Ads, Google Analytics, Google My Business, and a dozen other Google products geared towards building a business in the 21st century.
Google created the corporate slogan “Don’t Be Evil” and part of its official code of conduct until 2018. It has also come under criticism lately for tactics some have branded as evil. The Wednesday visit to New Haven was part of its corporate efforts to be associated with community service.
“There’s no better way to get closer to a customer than through Google,” said Archibald, who currently works for New Haven-bred Scott Lewis‘s real estate company in Wallingford and plans on opening his own Windsor-based real estate company, to be called Malcolm X. Archibald Enterprises.
“To be taught to use [Google’s online marketing tools] by someone who works for the company,” he said, “there’s no clearer communication.” Plus, he said, the sessions were entirely free.
Wednesday’s session attracted not just entrepreneurs, but elected officials.
“We used to be the most entrepreneurial state in the country,” Gov. Ned Lamont said during a midday visit to one of the Grow with Google classes in the library’s basement. “Nobody started up more amazing businesses.”
Public-private partnerships and free tech tutorials like Grow with Google, he said, are key to making sure that Connecticut residents can continue to start businesses and innovate in the century ahead.
“You can do anything you want in New Haven that u can do in Silicon Valley,” he said. “My priority is to make sure you can do more.”
A half-dozen tables were set up in the back half of the Ives Squared maker space, where Google employees offered New Haveners and library staff one-on-one counselling on how to use Google’s suite of digital products.
Local Reference Librarian Tom Smith and Google Associate Account Strategist Julia Quinn leaned over two laptops, brainstorming around which Google tools the library should host regular classes on even after Grow with Google leaves town. They clicked through Google Contacts, Google Vault, Google Hangout, and Google Photos. Smith said the library currently offers classes on Microsoft, but will likely add the Google Suite to its tutorials.
Two tables away, Fire Chief John Alston and Google employee Aiden Martinez clicked through Google Analytics, an online service that tracks website clicks, visits, and user interactions. Alston said he wants to think through if and how Google Analytics might be able to help with customer service response times and “community risk reduction” in his department.
Junzi Kitchen Co-Founders Wanting Zhang and Yong Zhao were also in attendance to hand out free samples of their chili oil, and to talk about how Google helped them grow from one store and 20 employees three years ago to four stores and nearly 100 employees today.
Zhao said Google Analytics and Google My Business have allowed them to better understand who buys what and how often at their Northern Chinese food take-out restaurants. Google featured also featured Junzi in its 2016 annualGoogle Economic Impact report, which singles out one business per state that is using Google to add customers, increase revenue, and open new locations.
“Without Google, I don’t think we could exist,” he said.
Downstairs in the library’s basement conference room, Robert Rose was just finishing up a midday workshop on Google Search and Google Maps. The 35-year-old West Havener already has his own digital ad agency, Digital Swank, located at 760 Chapel. He said he attended Wednesday’s free workshop to learn the latest features in Google’s mapping service, which he uses to build out client business profiles that show up when a user clicks on a particular address when browsing the web.
Darlena Young, a 39-year-old native New Havener who currently works at the American Job Center on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard, said she and her husband plan to open not just one business, but three: one drivers’ education training school, one motivational speaking company, and one “super salon” and spa.
She said she will definitely be using the Google My Business tools to promote her businesses once she and her husband get them off the ground.
“It’s time to grow,” she said.
Google hosted its first Connecticut Grow with Google events at the Hartford Public Library on Monday. The tech tutorial series moves to New Britain on Friday before heading off to Maryland. Click here for the Grow with Google schedule.