Are You Connected or Disconnected in the New Normal?

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We have all read the stats.  A billion people on Facebook, hundreds of millions on Twitter and LinkedIn.  Billions of blogs including this one.

I was reading an article in the New York Times this morning on my iPad while lying in bed. I had to make sure I wasn’t missing any e-mails at 6.30 AM. The article was about the anxiety of the unanswered e-mail.  Yes we have all had it happen to us.  We send out an e-mail and there is no response.  We wait a few days and then try again.  Nobody home.  We agonize if we should send a third e-mail to a post box called rejection when they clearly aren’t listening to us.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with somebody yesterday who was lamenting how personal interaction protocols have been breaking down.  I have heard the words many times before.  It’s rude they say.  It’s just not right. It’s unprofessional.  All of the above.

Now in today’s New Normal when I listen to somebody who is expecting to hear back because they sent their resume to a company I just shrug my shoulders.  My expectations are very low but when you looking for work you want the elevation of the courtesy of a response.  A little career reassurance. Maybe an e-mail saying you aren’t right for this position but you sure have done a lot of nice things in your career.  Sixty seconds that can lift a weary soul, create a company ambassador and put a smile on a human face.  But then again I have low expectations today.

People sometimes reach out to me by phone.  I am pretty easy to find on Google. They call me on my cell. They can be from other cities, other countries even. My Canada. They committed time to finding me.  I make a reciprocal effort to contact them, maybe spend some time researching them before I call but not too long because I have to get right back to them.  We chat and I follow up with some thoughts, maybe some free ideas, maybe something more.  And then I wait.  I wait and then I call.  I e-mail and then I wait and then I stop. I have changed my expectations. Chasing rejection is futile.

I have been listening about a lot of recent books about the impact of the internet on our lives. There are Ted Talks on being Connected but Alone.   Many people have a hard time getting to the gym but we have no problem accelerating our response time to any electronic stimulus to instantaneous in an over busy world.  We could probably solve a few problems if we all put a similar commitment to a few of the world’s problems.

Yes protocols, politeness, and even plain manners have to a degree disappeared in the New Normal.  Maybe we all have to remember the echoes of our mother’s voices that we did when we were growing up.  That benchmark of never disappointing was seldom breached. It embedded a pattern of behavior in the future but there are no mother’s voices echoing in e-mails.

There is your reputation. That tends to endure.  Maybe even more so in the online world of today.

So at the end of the day how well connected are we in the New Normal?  As connected as you want to be if you put down the phone and walk away from the computer and talk to somebody in your Starbucks line. It might lift your expectations when they write your name on the cup.

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Like Blank and Associates on Facebook

You might enjoy these articles.

Why I Network with People In Transition.

What Kind of Client Are You?

Watch Why Young People Shouldn’t Try To Find A Job.

Surviving the Great Recession

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I was at Starbucks the other day. Starbucks is the official office of the New Normal. It is filled by people who are working all day long without paying rent. There’s free Wi-Fi as well. I walked by a fellow who was talking to some colleagues. The words that came out of his mouth amplified for me in the air. “We survived,” he said. You could see his journey in the crevices of his brow.

I could imagine his conversation: “We survived, but we came out different. We had to make some major changes. Many of our competitors didn’t come out of it.” All true. I have heard it many times. I am often at Starbucks. The great recession changed everybody, everything and most values.

Do you trust your bank? Your mortgage company? Your employer? Your boss? Politicians? Oil companies? Your athletic heroes? Where do you shop now? Do people who drive $150,000 cars look successful to you? Do you buy your kids hoodies at a surf shop or Target? What companies do your children admire? Do you worry less or more? Has what’s important to you changed during the great recession?

Many companies didn’t survive the great recession. Where is New Century? Where is Mervyns? Many logos on office towers have changed many times where I live. I worked at JWT Chicago for 4 years, on the 27th floor of the John Hancock building. It was the show.  JWT Chicago opened in 1891, and closed during the great recession. “The times they are a changing,” a prophet sang.

A whole class of people has been marginalized. They reach out to me. They lost good jobs during the great recession that they can’t replace. Generally, they are 50 plus years of age. They are not in a position to retire. There are probably millions of them out there who have tried everything to get picked, but are continually overlooked. Feeling like the last kid picked in the game of Red Rover – The New Normal’s Lost Generation.

Some can create a job by starting a consulting career, but others don’t know how to productize their knowledge and turn it into a business. One of the jobs that I had in the past with an agency probably doesn’t exist anymore, or there are much fewer of them.

Look into the future. Do you think that they position that you are in will be around in 5 years? If not, then today is the first day of your life. You can become marginalized because of your cost which often increases with age.  You can become marginalized because of your skills. If you let that happen, that is your choice. You have to change as fast as technology. That’s today’s bench mark.

When kids were young, we sometimes told them to act their age. When you are older you have to reflect the age of relevance. Doesn’t make you bullet proof, but it does provide a vest.

You see in the New Normal many things don’t align with the Old Normal. Companies are cash rich, the stock market sings, but hiring lags. Some months the news is all happy and the next month not so much.

In the New Normal you have to be ready for the next change and it will happen.  Hopefully not for a long time but I still remember the dotcom bust of a decade ago.  Some don’t because they weren’t alive in the workforce or maybe because the pain was short lived.

So, where are you today?

Are you ready to be fired?

When is the late time you reinvented yourself?

How have you made yourself smarter today?

How large is your network?

How have you made yourself more marketable today?

There is a train coming down the track. It hasn’t hit us yet, but sometime in the distant future it will. It always has in the past.

 

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on Twitter: @hankblank

Like Blank and Associates on Facebook

 

You might enjoy these articles:

Don’t Let Your Business Cards Weaken Your Personal Brand

Why Reinvention is a Virtual Necessity

Watch She’s Not a Great Networker

Hank Blank’s Story About Laguna Niguel Connectors.

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I am one of the Founders of Laguna Niguel Connectors.  I remember the original touch point as if was today but I could be all wrong.  It was in the summer of 2008.  Somebody introduced me to Randy Miller and we had a Starbucks in my hood called Laguna Niguel.  Population 62,979.  Average household income of $98,000.

We were about a year into the New Normal but nobody recognized it yet on a grand scale.  I had but I live very close to the streets as a consultant who has to create a job each and every day.   The melt down began in 2007 but many people were still embracing the lie that things were OK.

Randy and I innocently and briefly talked about building a local networking group of like minded people.  We had another planning meeting at the same Starbucks with Dipak Shan and Gregory Gaines. Our skin colors, nationalities and backgrounds were all very different but our hearts beat the same way, We talked about some very simple principles.  About paying it forward.  There was no great grand vision because nobody knew the misery that was coming.  Somebody created a Linkedin page in August 2008.  We soon had our first meeting and 23 people came to the same Starbucks.  In September of 2008 the bank too big to fail failed and the world quickly melted.

Almost three million people lost their jobs that year.  That’s the entire population of Orange County.  Some were in in Laguna Niguel.  Their average income was no longer $98,000.  Then the meetings got bigger and bigger.  Very quickly many people started to come to Laguna Niguel Connectors because there weren’t that many places to go for so many people in transition. When over a 100 people were gathering outside that Starbucks the Baristas asked me what’s going on here?  It is a cult I joked or a local Amway meeting.  They laughed and moved on.

Today Laguna Niguel Connectors has over 3400 members.  We have satellite chapters that people organized.  We have volunteers organizing events. Many angels came out over the years.  We have name tags.  We now meet twice a month. I like the meeting at Salt Creek Winery the best.

One of the lessons I have learned is the possibility of serendipity and innocence.  What if Randy or I had decided not to meet at that Starbucks? What is Dipak or Gregory wouldn’t have attended the follow up?  Would there have been a Laguna Niguel Connectors?  Maybe yes and maybe no.  Some group would have been created because the three million people in transition from 2008 and more from the following years needed some place to go.

One lucky serendipity that  made Laguna Niguel Connectors successful was that outside that Starbucks there was a large area for people to meet and congregate.  What also worked was the fire hose of social media and the growth of Linked  aligned with the millions of people losing their jobs in the coming years. Those people quickly learned  about the power of creating their own personal brand on the Internet.

What also worked was the power of the people that came.  The majority didn’t have a job but they had great value and they found a  place to meet and get support and offer their skills. Laguna Niguel Connectors became  place to learn how to navigate the New Normal.  The meetings thankfully are smaller, the attitude of people to pay it forward the same.

That Starbucks is closing soon I have been told. I hope it is a sign of things to come.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

You can watch a video by Hank on Networking Tips for Young People.

You can also read some other blogs that may be able to help you.

Why I Network With People in Transition.

How to Stay Strong When the Search is Long.

How to Create a Job.

Networking In My Neigbourhood.

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I like my neighborhood.  I live in Laguna Niguel.  It is close to the beach and close to the stars.  Population of 63, 940 and  the median household income is $98,072.  Laguna Niguel is in Orange County which a lot of people think is white bread and very John Wayne. But perceptions can be thin veneers in our sound bite world.

Over 30% of Orange County is foreign born including me.  I was born in Toronto. Laguna Niguel has slightly more foreign born people than California but nobody would know that.

Many people think California is a place where people don’t know each other.  I live in a village of three million and it feels like a village because I have an attitude of engagement.  I know Derrick the bag person at Vons, I know Nick who owns the UPS Store in the same strip mall.  I know most of my Starbucks Baristas.  I have a garbage boy who takes out my trash.  I know that my UPS driver likes to play guitar. I know that my pharmacy assistant at CVS is from Egypt.  I listen to her worry and fell her pain.  I don’t care if it leads to business.  I want to live my life this way talking to people and not just to myself.

In 2008 I sat down at a Starbucks in the same strip mall with Randy Miller.  At that time I had met him a couple of times.  He also lived in Laguna Niguel.  He was the former CIO of a major technology company in OC and was in transition.  As a consultant I constantly live in transition.  I said I know a couple of people in Laguna Niguel and he said the same.  He introduced me to Gregory Gaines and Dipak Shah and we started Laguna Niguel Connectors in August 2008.  We had our first meeting outside the same Starbucks and had 23 people attend.  Within a month or two we had over 100 people at our monthly meetings.  Why?  Because the world melted in the fall of that year and many people in Laguna Niguel and Orange County were no longer making the average income of $98,000.  They were jettisoned into the world of transition.  Now Laguna Niguel Connectors has over 3400 members.  Just from four guys sitting around at a Starbucks.  One a Caucasian, one African American, one a person originally from India, and me a token Canadian.

I like Canadians.  Somebody told me that there are 800,000 Canadians in Southern CA. I believe it.  Many of us don’t like the cold.  There are 750,000 Persians in Southern CA I have been told.  I think the weather feels like home.  I don’t think some can go home. I met a fellow Canadian called Rob Kelle. We talked about starting a Canadians in OC Group.  We invited a few fellow Canadians to help.  Now Canadians in OC has over 340 people in the group and we have Canadian Thanksgiving events.  Over 13% of California’s trade is with Canada. Really?  Who would have known?

You see in the end your neighborhood isn’t what other people tell you it is.  Your neighborhood is what you create and how you live your life. Want to create one of your own?

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

Watch his video on the Power of Networking.

You may also enjoy these articles.

Has Your Job Search Passed It’s Expiry Date?

Job Hunting Tips.

The New Employer Employee Dance.

The Opposite of Networking Is Not Working.

How to Create a Job.

New Measures of Success for the New Normal.

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I meet with a lot of people.  I am a networker.  I speak on networking across the country and get to meet with a variety of different people from lots of places.  Networking creates the path in my life journey. Occasionally networking sessions can be more like therapy sessions when people who are adrift are searching for alignment. The New Normal has caused a lot of changes and disruption. Unfortunately, I am not a Yogi.  Then there are networking meetings with people who have greater clarity on what defines them and where they stand.

I was talking to a journalist the other day about reinvention and the need for re-creation in today’s journey of lifelong learning.  She shared her mother’s formula for success.  Her Mom is 90.  In her MOM’s world you worked for one company as your career job for the majority of your life and then retired.  When I present and ask people today if they will be working for their current employer for the rest of their life, they laugh.

In the new normal I know 28 year olds that are on their 3rd job.  I also meet 27 year olds who work but have no meaningful career job.

I met a very successful career driven woman the other day whose measure of success was climbing the corporate ladder and competing in a man’s world. That was her comfort zone.   Then her ladder was knocked out from under her and there were no steps to climb.  She was adrift.  She wanted her ladder back. She had no measure of success in the New Normal.

In the Old Normal the measures were very clear.  Promotions, Peer Recognition, Raises, Company Cars, Expenses, larger offices.  For many, the office of today is their local Starbucks.

I still remember vividly meeting with somebody during the .com bust. The precursor to the Great Recession.  It was probably 2001 or 2002.  I met with a person in transition at the place where I was working at the time. She shared what happened to her.  I still remember her words.  She said she was devastated that she had lost her job.  She was clearly defined by her job. Her job was her measure of self worth.

I remembered even then thinking that you aren’t defined by the company you work for.  You are defined by your character.  That leaves a more lasting impression than your accumulation.  So what is your measure of success?  How do you define achievement today in a world where there are no gold watches?

Career currency, financial currency, or social currency.  Which pays a higher yield in the end?

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

Watch his video on YouTube on The Power of Networking.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-dSNVAN9FU&list=UUEigDTyDiFGXVfyg7sRErOg&index=10&feature=plcp